The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen, and ultimately the fall of Versailles.
"All eyes will be on you," says the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa to her youngest daughter Marie Antoinette. The film, marketed for a teen audience, is an impressionistic retelling of Marie Antoinette's life as a young queen in the opulent and eccentric court at Versailles. The film focuses on Marie Antoinette, as she matures from a teenage bride to a young woman and eventual queen of France. Written by
Even though the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles was in restoration - until spring 2007 - Sofia Coppola was allowed to film there a ball scene for the wedding of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI. See more »
When Marie Antoinette is pouring tea for her brother Emperor Joseph II, his tea cup is on the table in front of him. The next shot of the tea set, his cup is sitting on the tray. See more »
Written by Aphex Twin (as Richard D. James)
Performed by Aphex Twin
Courtesy of Sire Records
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
And Courtesy of Warp Records See more »
Usually, I can watch a movie to the end. But in the case of Marie Antoinette, I failed miserably in the attempt. If "Marie Antoinette" is not the dullest movie in existence, then the directors who have come up with worse should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
I don't care if a movie, like Marie Antoinette, is not historically accurate. What I do care about is when it does not give us anything of interest to hang on to. Kirsten Dunst's Marie Antoinette comes across as a ditsy teenager, which may entertain some people, but frankly I met so many ditsy teenage girls in my time that I can do without seeing a film about one. Jason Schwartzmann makes a terrible Louis XVI, because all we see is a clueless king. The real Louis XVI was more interesting and complex than the one in the film. He was a product of his own age. He tried to solve the financial crises of his own reign by appointing one minister after the other. But these ministers failed, because they faced outdated Feudal structures, like the provincial parlements and the office-holders, which thwarted any attempt to reform the tax system; reforms that could have generated more revenue and helped solve the financial crises. Rip Torn, who is best doing comic roles, is miscast as Louis XV, a king who in reality is far more complex and far more interesting than Sophia Coppola makes him out to be.
But unfortunately the problems don't end there. The different accents (which results from the film director picking an all-star cast and allowing them to speak in their own accents) clash. The excerpts with rock n'roll make the film an awkward experience. It is almost as though film director Sophia Coppola (who also wrote the screenplay) wanted to create a period piece and a contemporary piece at the same time. But since the 18th century was obviously a very different from the 21st century, the result is a jumbled film with fits and starts. What Ms. Coppola should have done was to make 18th century France understandable to her audience -- just as her father Francis Ford Coppola made the secret underworld of the Mafia understandable to his viewers. But that takes a special talent, which I am not sure Ms. Coppola has.
It does not help that the film lacks a real plot. First, we wonder whether the wedding between Marie and Louis XVI will succeed -- we wonder, but we don't care, because neither character establishes a connection with us. After the answer to that question is given, we see a disjointed plot with gambling scenes, Marie playing with her children and Louis XVI doing some state business. Finally, the French Revolution sends everything crashing down. But again who cares? The reason why the plot does not work is not simply because it is disjointed and we do not care about the characters, but rather because the events that come to pass on film are not given any meaning. Ms. Coppola could solve that problem in many ways. Perhaps, she could even portray France as it was in the 18th century. A France locked into the Feudal age, in spite of the monarch's pretensions for being absolute. A France that had a hodge-podge of different laws for different provinces and even different towns, resulting in a legal system that was so unequal, so confusing and so unfair that the revolutionaries made a single law code for the whole of France one of their key demands. But these issues are not discussed. Louis XVI's approach to these problems was glossed over. And we do not really understand why the idyllic world at Versailles suddenly came crashing down.
Obviously a lot of money was spent on the sets and costumes, but it seems to be such a waste considering what Sophia Coppola finally came up with. I rarely bring environmental issues into a movie review. But if you are going to pollute the planet and wreck the delicate balance that exists between human beings and nature, then at least don't come up with trash like Marie Antoinette. Indeed if Hollywood did not make bad films, they would be doing the environment a big favor.
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