Marie Antoinette

Okay, I know this movie’s been open for a few weeks and is old news… But I was out of town when it opened and in spite of being very excited about this movie, didn’t get to it until tonight… I’m a big fan of Sophia Coppola. I also liked the idea of using modern music and sensibilities in this film to make Marie Antoinette’s situation more relatable. To emphasize how very young the last King and Queen of France had been.

I wasn’t at all discouraged about the lukewarm reviews or the booing the film received in Cannes. I figured the movie was bound to piss off the French, who wouldn’t like an American filmmaker using American and British actors to tell the story of this important (albeit Austrian) woman from French history. I’ve also learned over the years that I often like films the reviewers don’t…

But the movie fell flat for me…

There was much to like. It’s great to look at and I actually think Kirsten Dunst was very good in the role. The look she gives the camera during the opening credits was worth whatever they paid her. I also liked Jason Shwartzman as the King and found their developing relationship cute and kind of sweet.

So what went wrong? It occurs to me that this film is a good example of why storytelling is so important. But I’m not typically a stickler for straightforward storytelling in movies. (Me and my drunk writer buddies often disagree on films because of this, I think.) I do like movies that don’t tell an obvious story as long as it has compelling characters I love watching… And some of the characters in Marie Antionette were interesting… Notably Antionette herself…

But this film just didn’t work for me. It spent a lot of time (a lot) showing us how much time it took for Louis and Marie to figure out how to make a baby… (Did we need to see him turn away from her in bed or prematurely ejaculate so many times? Did we need to see more than one letter of concern from her mother on the topic?) And then, after spending too much time on that, and an inexplicably long time watching her walk through gardens, it basically skipped forward to the revolution, with the most abrupt movie ending I’ve ever seen. Maybe cutting off the end of the movie, was supposed to symbolize cutting off her head?

Anyway… didn’t work for me. I also didn’t see why Sophia bothered to show Marie having an adulterous affair, without really exploring how this affected her or her marriage. A wistful look out a window one bored afternoon was all we got. Was the affair just to show she’d had good sex at least once in her life? Or just to get a sex scene into the movie? Didn’t feel like it needed to be there, to me.

Sorry Sophia. I guess not every movie you make will be perfection for me.

  3 comments for “Marie Antoinette

  1. November 8, 2006 at 2:22 am

    This one is on my list to see as well- but now I grow more concerned. sigh.

  2. November 8, 2006 at 4:17 am

    Sorry for wrecking it for you. As I said, there was much to like, too…

  3. November 8, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    so many good movies to see right now, and no chance to see all of them.
    I’d heard mixed reviews of this one, so thanks for the explanation.

Comments are closed.