November 10th, 2006 02:18 EST
Marie Antoinette: It's Good to Be Queen
Pastries, Lavish Dresses, fancy shoes, and puppies can summarize Queen Marie Antoinette favorite possessions in the movie Marie Antoinette. I heard this movie was coming out over a year ago and have been anticipating its arrival to the big screen.
Directed by Sofia Copella (Lost in Translation), the movie takes the audience to Versailles depicting the extravagant yet troublesome life Marie Antoinette leads. I was not thrilled when I learned Kirsten Dunst was to play the title role, but I was thoroughly impressed with her performance and her awkward yet funny chemistry she shared with her husband Louis XVI played by Jason Schwartzman.
The movie opens with a shot of Marie Antoinette getting a foot massage while eating little cake squares as 80` British punk rock music played in the background. The movie begins in Austria in 1768 when Marie Antoinette is only fourteen. She learns she will solidify the relationship between Austria and France by marrying the prince or Dauphin Louis XVI who will someday take the throne. Stripped of everything Austrian including her dog, Marie Antoinette faces a new world at Versailles full of gossip and scandal. On the couple`s wedding night the full court is there as well as a priest to bless the consummation of their marriage. That does not happen however, for another seven years. Each night Marie Antoinette tries to seduce her husband little by little but each attempt is rebuffed because he is tired from all the hunting trips he attends adding to the awkward tension they share each day. Every morning the Contesse de Noialles played by the fabulous Judy Davis wakes Marie Antoinette and oversees the closest female relative to dress the princess.
The film shows the day to day activities of the young dauphine which includes sharing a midday meal with her husband. The awkward conversation and silence provides comedy but you also feel sorry for Marie Antoinette as she tries so desperately to connect to her husband. As the years drag on member of royal family like Aunt Victoire played by Molly Shannon begin to shun and gossip about the princess since she has yet to have a child. Finally, Louis XVI works up the courage and the two consummate their marriage. Marie Antoinette has a girl Marie Therese. Although not a boy, Marie Antoinette loves her daughter and often takes her to their new retreat that resembles a mini-Versailles.
The adulterous king XV eventually dies and Marie Antoinette becomes queen of France and the Dauphin rises to be king. It is at this time that the queen`s obsession with parties and clothing gets extreme. Fashion designers and consultants visit Marie Antoinette and her friends at Versailles at receive new dresses, shoes, and hairstyles. Even though the movie is set two hundred years ago, the way the women shopped reminded me of how females shop at malls today. The queen`s birthday party is no different complete with gambling and too much wine and champagne. As the French people were suffering from a bread shortage, Marie Antoinette declared, Let them eat cake. "
The queen then had a much needed boy Louis Joseph. She finally pleased the royal court and had fulfilled her role as the queen. Marie Antoinette then sought companionship from other men then her husband. After meeting the Swedish Count Fersen at a masked ball in Paris, the two engage in a elicit affair. As she matures into a woman and mother, Marie Antoinette neglects her duties as queen and to her people. She and her husband both lose their head during the bloody French Revolution.
Sophia Copella does a great directing the movie using primarily the sense of place and elaborate setting of Versaille along with different choices to tell the story more so than the dialogue. The costumes and wigs were absolutely amazing with the color pink as the favorite among the women. Notable performances were Jason Schwartzman as the timid and somewhat dorky Louis XVI and Rose Byrne as the shallow Duchesse de Polyignac. The movie is not your typical biographical big budget film which adds to its appeal.