In The Patriot
Tchéky Karyo's Major Jean Villeneuve essentially served as the filmmakers' token Frenchman. One assumes that the character was based on such foreigners as the Maquis de Lafayette, who came to help the colonies fight for freedom and a chance to fight the British. Villeneuve being French also served as the funny foreign sidekick, although there were moments of underlying tension. The tension was built around the fact that Benjamin Martin and his men were French and Indian War veterans who were infamous for some deplorable acts after defeating the French at Fort Wilderness. Alas, the tension that comes from that backstory seems to just appear and disappear to suit the progression of the film.
Since the core of The Patriot's story is about family, Villeneuve was supplied with a backstory that gave him common ground with Benjamin Martin. However, aside from a very long-awaited moment of bonding between the men when Villeneuve finally opens up and describes his murdered daughters to Martin, that underlying thread feels forced and shallow. Karyo was great in the comic bits, playing them with the dignity needed to make the scenes truly funny. Unfortunately, the dramatic scenes between Villenueve and Martin's militia tend to feel contrived and forced. The actors give a more than adequate performance with the material they have to work with, but the lack of development in the screenplay makes those scenes feel very staged and in no way organic.
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