Marie Antoinette (2006)

Marie Antoinette (2006) Director:Sofia Coppola
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson, Marianne Faithful .USA, France, Japan. 2h 3m

A lot of cake was eaten in Sofia Coppola’s punktastic retelling of the life and downfall of Marie Antoninette. From her teen marriage to the King of France and their bizarre and lavish life together, offset to a brilliant pop punk soundtrack, there’s probably just enough to get help you through a GCSE but there’s very little accurate history involved but lots of analogies to just how much of a pop princess Marie was for the age.

Copolla dowses her cast in the finest and most accurate clothing only in order to have them dancing to Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure, Bow Wow Wow, Aphex Twin and Adam and the Ants. Something that will make your history teachers’ toes twiddle but in all honesty Marie was a wayward and outlandish pop princess for her time and the steampunk blend of British punk culture in 1750’s France is not only fresh but it’s fantastic.

Let them eat cake

Moving through the paces of Marie being sold off by her family to France to calm the waters until the day when France stormed Versailles for her head, the chapters fall into place but it’s the in between scandals, shopping trips and pointless royal routines which play out to explode the banality. Something as simple as getting out of bed, not only was watched by the elite but orchestrated by a royal assistant, in the meantime while it’s discussed who should be helping the queen, she’s partially freezing and being stared at by strangers.

There’s no focus on one particular part of Marie’s journey, however there is a clear shift in the relationship between her and her beloved, two estranged teenagers, not too sure about themselves, thrown into the limelight and in control of so much, it took some persuasion before they made rumpy pumpy, Marie slated in the papers for not being able to arouse her husband or bare children.. the paparazzi have always had a hand in controlling politics…

Marie-Antoinette: This is ridiculous.

Comtesse de Noailles: This, Madame, is Versailles.

Dunst does an adequate job at acting the spoilt child, who’s coming of age is to play in her own hand built village, while Schwartzman manages to pull off wet behind the ear virgin, between them, they somehow do an excellent job at their roles but cannot complete with the anorments around them, Coppola isn’t so focused on the person but the sparkle life at court. Tom Hardy turns up as a random partygoer, and there is a lot of sneaking out for partying, there’s also a hint of a love affair between Marie and an acquaintance. The most scandalous character Louis XV is played by Rip Torn (RIP), with his color whore in tow played by Asia Argento.. obviously a cameo for her, but Coppola keeps it to a sensual level rather than dishing the dirt.

Set in such a luxury palace and cloaked in pleasant frocks, jewels and gilt, it’s hard not to see the film as a gorgeous succulent morsel for the eyes, but there’s a world of gears working under this, mostly Coppola’s fast eye, she’s well known for her perfume adverts and you can see his mimicked in a lot of ballroom scenes, she can really set dazzling movement to music so well. With so many wonderful outfits and gorgeous actors on the cards the cameraman must have been dizzy trying to keep an eye on them all and thankfully there’s no singing.

How can we be expected to live in a place if we are not certain about our position?

-Duchesse de Char

It all comes together when you realize just how young and isolated the pair were during their lifetimes, like trophies being used by their parents to save face, never having to face reality behind palace walls and parties, but when they eventually got the reins it was all too late. In a way they are Hollywood brats but with the ability to make big decisions.

The choice to make this info a fun fantasy rather than an on point history homework helper is bold and refreshing to breath new life into a subject you can still read a book about if you’re interested, but the world of cinema needs more thinking done outside the box and deliver a visual and dramatic style that shimmer more than smulders under heavy and oppressive realistic rules.


Rating: 8/10

Related: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Elizabeth (1998) , The Girl with the Pearl Earring (2003)
Lists: A-Z of Period Dramas
Spotlight: Rip Torn, Kirsten Dunst


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