Marie Antoinette Review

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is based on Lady Antonia Fraser’s book which portrays a sympathetic account of the 18th-century queen whose role in the French Revolution is often debated. The movie is visually stunning for its pastel cinematography and equally pastel(y) French patisserie, but it is filled with historical inaccuracies. This biopic is neither detailed nor informative as the audience is cocooned into the world of Marie as poverty, reality, society is shunned out.

The Plot

14-year-old Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) is sent by her mother to marry the Dauphin of France (Jason Schwartzman).

She is clueless, naïve and charming and before she enters France, there is an elaborate  “handover ceremony” where she is undressed and checked and has to relinquish every tie with her native country including her beloved pug, Mops.

Upon arrival at the Palace of Versailles, she is married to the Dauphin and is encouraged to produce an heir as soon as possible. Her Husband remains indifferent to her for an inordinate amount of time (7-8 years to be precise. Yes, that long).  Unable to produce an heir, Marie bears the disdain of the King’s courtiers. As time moves on, her life in Versailles becomes stifling thanks to elaborate and inappropriate customs and her inability to incite passion in her husband. Isolated and agonized, Marie Antoinette indulges in fashion, food, and gambling to escape from the drudgery of her life

This is ridiculous ! This madame, is, Versailles !

The Fashion

If you need one reason to watch this movie then let it alone be fashion. Marie Antoinette’s journey is fashionably captured from corseted couture to millinery by Milena Canonero who aptly won an Oscar for Costume Design. Complementing the French Fashion is also the decadent Manolo Blahnik shoes and tempting patisseries from Ladurée. All the luxury and decadence are gratifying to watch but also far-fetched from reality which is soon to come.

I like the pink. It’s like candy!

Related: The Young Victoria (2009) Film Review: An Adorable Bildungsroman
Marie Antoinette

18th Century Fashion!

Let them eat cake !

The Cast

The cast is perfect in its impeccable casting. No one could have portrayed the chirpy, frolic misdemeanor of Marie Antoinette better than Kirsten Dunst. Supporting her in the lead role is equally funny with a deadpan face is Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI.  Meanwhile, Danny Huston is hilarious as Marie’s older brother, brought in from Austria to give the young king a few suggestions about intimacy in marriage. The old king Louis XV (Rip Torn) and his mistress Madame du Barry  (Asia Argento) adds a veritable charm to the ensemble.

Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

Shy couple, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

Shy couple, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

Married for political alliance, Louis XVI and Marie is initially quite a shy couple.  Though initially disinterested in her, Louis XVI grows to love her and attain intimacy in their relationship.  Throughout their marriage, he is never unfaithful to Marie rather he grows to be a loving father and a caring husband.  Marie while at times unfaithful clearly loves her husband and also proves to be a dutiful Queen by standing by his side at all times.

Overall Thoughts

Not quite the generic biopic, Coppola’s Marie Antoinette has punk, rock, and modern dialogue all thrown in together to visualize the last Queen of France. She does a great job by removing all the nasty depictions we know of (there is no beheading) so everyone can watch it without cringing. But the narrative of the movie is very slow and there is a high chance of dozing off in the 2nd half (not that I dozed off). Yet with an intricate mish-mash of the Then upon Now it creates a layered work of fictionalized truth. Watch it for its tragic poignancy and it will seem like a masterpiece but if watched like a biopic it will falter hopelessly.

Content Note: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and innuendo.

Where to Watch: Available on DVD.


Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

OVERALL RATING

three and a half corset rating

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful

friendship.”

ROMANCE RATING

two heart rating

“I have not the pleasure of

understanding you.”

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