This is a French costume drama from director Patrice Leconte that recalls both Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Restoration (1995). Gregoire Ponceludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling) is a baron of the 18th century French countryside, wealthy in property and high in social position but poor in cash. Local peasants -- dependent upon his largesse for their income -- are in poor health, the result of a festering marsh that, if drained, could solve the villagers' illnesses and create valuable farmland. Ponceludon travels to Versailles to plead his case before King Louis XVI. There, he is informed that he has no chance of success unless he can impress the court with his verbal prowess, for the king and his minions value banter, preferably of the ironic, cruel, and insulting variety, above all else. Under the tutelage of the Marquis de Bellegarde (Jean Rochefort), Ponceludon discovers that his sober, blunt honesty can be mistaken for a skewering wit. Though the baron falls for his mentor's science-minded daughter Mathilde (Judith Godreche), he's forced to woo the politically powerful Madame de Blayac (Fanny Ardant). Ridicule (1996) opened the 1996 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.