Set in France during the Napoleonic Wars, the latest from director Thomas Napper (Jawbone) tells the true story of Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the “Grande Dame of Champagne,” otherwise known as Veuve Clicquot.



Widow Clicquot

Thomas Napper

Widow Clicquot is based on the true story of the “Grande Dame of Champagne,” Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (1777–1866) who, at the age of 20, became Madame Clicquot after marrying the scion of a winemaking family. Though their marriage was arranged, a timeless love blossomed between Barbe-Nicole (Haley Bennett; Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven, TIFF ’16 and The Equalizer, TIFF ‘14) and her poetic, unconventional, and erratic husband, François (Tom Sturridge, who played Lord Byron in Haifaa al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley, TIFF ’17).

In the weeds after her spouse’s untimely death, and now a mother to Clémentine, Barbe-Nicole is still enamoured and enthralled with François’ avant-garde experiments. Named Veuve (the French word for widow) at age 27, she is determined to protect her family’s legacy and boldly challenge the men — as well as the state — set on stripping her of her vineyards.

Determined to advance her husband's theories about soil chemistry, the configuring of vines, and revolutionary techniques in bottling, Barbe-Nicole wagers on the next harvest and her own blend of sparkling wine. Challenged by the capriciousness of the seasons, the aggressive competitor Monsieur Moët, and the Napoleonic Code of 1804 barring women from running businesses, the elegant and luminous widow must succeed or lose everything.

Telling the tale in retrospect and reflection over a 10-year span from approximately 1797 to 1807, director Thomas Napper entwines a sparkling story of flourishing female entrepreneurship with an account of doomed lovers whose legacy reverberates in the bubbles. A toast to the perseverance of unshakeable women! A toast to Veuve Clicquot!


Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival


Mon Sep 11

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Tue Sep 12

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Wed Sep 13

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Thu Sep 14

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Fri Sep 15

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