Sofia Coppola :: USA :: 2005 :: 2h03
From the Royal court of Vienna to Versailles, Marie-Antoinette is whisked off to France to wed the young heir to the throne Louis Auguste. Their marriage brings the characters closer together slowly, despite their young age, as they try to take on the role which was bequeathed to them.
The movie introduces itself as a pink-punk-rock-and-roll-type of 70s decadent movie, so comparisons with the exciting and difficult life of the real Marie-Antoinette are misplaced. Judging the movie on its merits as a decadent 70s style picture was no doubt to ease us into the casual drug use and Marie-Antoinette watching the run rise with a glass of Champagne, eating inordinate amounts of sugary foods. Yes, that is as exciting as it gets. It is a curious choice to toy with Versailles and French history as the wall paper to a coming of age drama which would have been better suited in some standard suburban spoilt backdrop, after all the movie does not raise above that level. But besides the sugary indulgence – what about matters of the heart and sexuality? The young girl falls in love once fleetingly in all the years which pass. Other than that aesthetic attraction, we are expected to believe this pious partying girl has no particular interest in others, neither romantically nor capable of friendship, hardly a coming of age. She’s shown with friends, but the troubles of friendships, especially important at the court, are not worked out, nor intimate.
Partly because of that fault, her coming of age does not develop, neither is the ending understandable – the role of the aristocracy is practically cut out of the tale. The gossip environment, so important in the lives of the young (it can break you) is amateurishly portrayed as silly remarks in the background noise. Because of the superficial adolescent treatment, the whole story looks like a dress-up party, with a well intentioned Marie-Antoinette in the middle.
Parallels with ‘Lost in Translation’ are not hard to find, the suicidal boredom of watching spoilt characters wasting their time, mixed with a few meaningful looks here and there which are supposed to add depth. Ideally, if watched on video, switch off the superfluous sound – you’ll miss out on some good music, but be thankful for skipping over the dialogues. The gardens and extravagant salons of Versailles as the beautiful Parisian Opera Garnier are endlessly shown, so you will not even have to press repeat on your DVD player. Perhaps you will find it a pleasant moving image while you’re cooking, some sweet toothed desert, of course.