Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette; Drama, USA, 2006; D: Sofia Coppola, S: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), the daughter of Austrian empress Maria Theresa, is brought at the age of 14 to an arranged marriage with Louis XVI, son of French king Louis XV. Marie moves to Versailles - at first she feels like a stranger there, but soon gets use to it. She despises Madame du Barry, king's courtesan, and has marital problems since her husband is cold in bed and won't even touch her. Still, they eventually get two children. Louis XVI becomes the new king. When the French Revolution starts, she stays in Versailles until the angry people get her and her family.

The 3rd film by director Sofia Coppola, "Marie Antoinette" is an smooth, polished, but rather flat achievement. Coppola's decision of portraying the title heroine as "Paris Hilton of Rococo" may seem odd at first, yet it has it's moments: she is arrogant and spoiled, but at the same time a very innocent, naive character that has some spark, and her marital problems with her cold husband Louis XVI or some scenes where she even has a pet puppy, are small highlights, while the decision to incorporate some modern rock'n'roll music in the story set in the 18th Century is at times exquisite, like the sweet montage where The Strangeloves' song "I Want Candy" plays in the background. Where the film never succeeds, however, is the impression that the story has any weight at all. Strangely, it seems as if nothing is going on in the entire film. For a while, the film is interesting, yet with time it gets more and more bland. One of it's major problems is that it's too episodic, with vignette after vignette that don't connect on any level - in one scene Marie has a baby girl, in the next she already has a baby boy, then in the next the kids are already 5 years old...Some ellipses that jump so sudden are almost absurd. Also, almost no reasons are shown why the French Revolution started in the first place, nor why the people had something against her. After all, the dreamy mood in the film isn't so dreamy to carry everything after all. It may seem rather impolite, but so much more was said about Antoinette's life in an animated series where she was only a supporting character, "The Rose of Versailles".


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