Film review: The Ideal Palace

Wowsa. What a beautiful surprise.

Not a surprise in that I didn’t think it wasn’t going to be beautiful, at the very least to look at – the trailer suggested as much. And the story seemed pretty beautiful too. But the details that are (thankfully!) left out of the trailer take it to another level of beauty.

The palace itself. And the narrative.

The Ideal Palace retells the true story – and retraces the footsteps – of Joseph Ferdinand Cheval (played by Jacques Gamblin), a happily introverted, almost verbally and emotionally repressed postman, who… builds a palace for his daughter. And by doing so, is able to express some pretty epic emotions.

The palace is, well, not an embellished description. It’s positively palatial.

And, because the film is based on a true story, it adds so much weight when you see what he does, and how he bloody does it!

It’s also about love. Loss. SO much loss. Oh my god, take tissues.

And his devotion-slash-obsession. The onion-like layers of this quietly spoken man are peeled as the story unfolds and the palace is built.

The film is a little slow at times, so you do need to be in the right mood for it. I was feeling ready for a slow retreat to rural France on the Saturday morning screening, so I’d recommend it for a relaxing wine-down session or chill vibe. Maybe not Saturday night date night material.

Enjoy the scenery. (I had ample “oh my god the French know how to do cinema” moments). Enjoy the journey. The slow build. The film’s pace mirrors the laborious journey both on his feet and in building the palace by hand – in a good way. And, like the end product, it truly rewards the audience.

Side note: What also blew me away is that I consider myself p-retty well travelled. While there’s always more to see, I’ve travelled quite a bit. I’ve seen the Moai on Rapa Nui and Angkor Wat, both of which are referenced in the film. So I was quite surprised that I’d not yet heard of such a magnificent structure – that can actually be visited by the general public. So guess what’s been added to my list

Read more about the palace here.

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