Arnaud des Pallières’ “Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas” is another starring vehicle for Mads Mikkelsen to inhabit a man who wants simple justice, in the lengthening line of movies that include 2012’s “A Royal Affair” and “The Hunt.” Whether in present-day stories or historical settings, Mikkelsen finds just the right temperature for cool determination behind assured principle. As a horse trader in feudal France, Mikkelsen’s shoulder-length hair and brooding, charismatic gaze matches the verdant yet also stony, gloomy landscape. “I want my horses back the way they were,” Kohlhaas insists after two are appropriated by a baron. Des Pallières shoots largely on exteriors with available light, and the dark mood is unrelenting. Des Pallières also hears his historical era: the richly detailed sound design, of jostles and clanks and wind, compensates partially for the film’s often deliberate pace. Based on Heinrich von Kleist’s nineteenth-century German novella, transposed to France. With Denis Lavant, a sudden live wire as a reproving priest, Bruno Ganz, Mélusine Mayance, David Bennent. 122m. (Ray Pride)
“Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas” opens Friday, June 6 at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.