Kate Winslet in a smart ponytail and slinky black skimmer posed for selfies with fans as I approached MoMA this week for the New York premiere screening of her new film, A Little Chaos, directed by Alan Rickman.
Finally prying herself loose from the crowd, she joined the audience for this period piece in which she portrays Sabine De Barra, a self-possessed woman with a career as a landscape designer --from -- most improbably -- the 17th century, the time of Louis XIV (Rickman is both imperious and human in this role as king). A Little Chaos describes her mode of design which impresses Andre de Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to hire her for the work at Versailles, and from there, the rest is history, as they say, or more to this film, historical fiction. There is much to say about Ellen Kuras' stunning cinematography. The film was shot in the castles near London, exteriors in gardens, and interiors in bedrooms where the emerging love affair is swoon-worthy.
A party ensued at The Monkey Bar, one of the warmest in a season of summer movies: Everyone seemed to be Alan Rickman's friend from some part of his long and stellar career. And Winslet fell into embrace with Belinda Sinclair, a wild-haired "magicienne" who had worked on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with Winslet back in the day. Kuras shot that film too, and they all remained friends, since 2004. When I asked Kuras what was the hardest part of the shoot, she said, there was a lot of mud. Indeed, in one scene, Winslet's Sabine is so determined not to fail, when her lover's jealous wife floods her work, she plunges into rushing waters to rescue the garden. Kuras said, "That was no double. Kate dove right in."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.