Reviewer: Stephanie Vale
Mention the film Triumph of Love and the phrase difficult to watch comes to mind. So do the words sensual, shocking, and scheming. Opening scene: an unnamed princess (played by Mira Sorvina) of an unnamed country and her lady-in-waiting and close friend Corine (Rachael Stirling) are quickly changing clothes as they bounce along in a speeding carriage. Giggling and laughing as they help each other remove corsets to bind their breasts with cloth (to make themselves appear flat-chested), the scene is both mildly sensual and provocative. Minutes later the two emerge from the carriage fully clothed as men: they are assuming the false names Phocion and Hermides respectively, going undercover on a visit to a country estate.
Many years ago, long before her reign began, the princess parents (now deceased) usurped the throne and so the princess is now determined to restore her countrys rightful ruler: a young man named Agis (Jay Rodan). Since the first moment she laid eyes on him a few weeks before (as she spied on him through the trees), she fell madly in love. Determining to right the injustice done and restore him to his birthright, she dreams of a happy ending with herself ruling beside him on the throne. Theres just one eensie-weensie problem: he hates her! Since birth, the rightful prince and heir has been taught to hate his great enemy the princess, as well as the female sex in general. He has no contact with women at all, other than a spinster named Leontine (Fiona Shaw), who guards and protects him along with her brother, Hermocrates (Ben Kingsley), a great philosopher of the day. Hermocrates and Leontine have raised Agis to distrust the whole female sex and steer clear of them at all costs, meanwhile plotting to soon overthrow the princess and place Agis on the throne.
The princess and Corine are planning to infiltrate the country estate where Hermocrates and Leontine have Agis squired away dressed as men, with one further problem: Hermocrates does not allow any strangers to come visit ever (regardless of their sex)! Phocion must come up with a way to get Hermocrates and Leontine to let them stay for a short visit so she can get close to Agis. She begins to woo Leontine under her male guise, and befriends Agis. She is quickly found out to be a woman by Hermocrates, to whom she confesses her great love." The princess tells him her name is Aspasie and that she is only there to be close to him, great philosopher and man that he is. She denies any interest in Agis, and although he resists at first, his defenses begin to crumble. So begins a mad-cap adventure of sorts, revolving around the machinations of one woman dressed as a man wooing two men and a woman all at the same time!
Triumph of Love was a tour de farce of massive proportions; the whole premise of the movie lacking good morals. Trickery and deception in this elaborate hoax are accepted methods of getting what you want, as well as masquerading as a different gender than your own (even to the extent of kissing a woman of your own sex to convince her of your love"). In the end, things are put to right and justice is done, as much as can be expected to happen, but the moral mire we must muck through to get there make this film a definite steer clear. In the end, I concluded while there were a few enjoyable and touching moments, on the whole, it is just not a film worth picking up.
Sexual undercurrents run amuck the entire film; the main themes include trickery, bribery, seduction, revenge, and deception. There are no sex scenes, but many scenes are very suggestive and sensual. There is brief nudity in the film, at the beginning when Phocion and Hermides are changing clothes. A young man rests his hand on the breast of a young woman briefly, two women kiss on the lips, a short discussion on needing to be a man (referring to a mans package).