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Review: Marie Antoinette

Published October 19, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
Marie Antoinette Poster Marie Antoinette
For all the rock music, modern dialogue and lack of accents, Marie Antoinette is not that different from most historical/political biopics. It’s the life story, or at least significant portion of the life of the Queen of France.

Marie Antoinette Review

Picking up with her marriage to Prince Louis XVI, the film goes through the birth of their two children and ends as they flee the castle. The issues dealt with are Louis’ lack of libido, boredom with and rebellion against regal traditions and ultimately taking the thrown to deal with the angry mob.

The film makes a strong case against the silly rituals, from going through so many ranks just getting dressed to being put to bed together. It certainly doesn’t seem to be benefiting the country.

The politics of who must speak first are there and provide opportunities for political snobbery. The conversations are as boring as one might expect from privileged young rulers. Part of the point is her uncommunication with Louis. The accent doesn’t really matter. It’s about the personality.

Kirsten Dunst definitely makes it easier to watch a period piece. She’s a cute, bubbly girl going through this ride like a modern girl. Even if the dialogue were more formal, she’d have that going for her. Poor Jason Schwartzman just has to be a bore, so doing his job well means the audience will just want to smack him across the face just to see any signs of life.

Like Sofia Coppola’s previous work, the film is sparse with dialogue, instead soaking in the world of 18th century France. It creates a slower pace but not a boring one, because there is so much of a different world to take in.

Ultimately, I had a hard time figuring out the point of telling the Marie Antoinette story in any fashion. Yeah, there are parallels to modern celebrity. She claims “Let them eat cake” is basically a tabloid rumor, and she visibly spends lots of the government’s money on what were the extravagances of the day.

But is that it? Politicians and celebrities were wasteful back then too? With any biography, I suppose you have to be interested in the subject or it feels indulgent. Being no history buff, I just kind of felt that this was something that happened and now there’s a movie about it.

On the plus side, there’s plenty of near nudity. You see Kirsten’s ass and plenty of shots in sheer white nightgowns. Let’s just say it must have been very cold in the Versailles castle.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Columbia Pictures.

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