The retelling of France's iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. From her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 15 to her reign as queen at 19 and to the end of her reign as queen and ultimately the fall of Versailles.
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"All eyes will be on you," says the Austrian Empress, Maria Theresa to her youngest daughter Marie Antoinette. The film, marketed for a teen audience, is an impressionistic retelling of Marie Antoinette's life as a young queen in the opulent and eccentric court at Versailles. The film focuses on Marie Antoinette, as she matures from a teenage bride to a young woman and eventual queen of France. Written by
Across the board, an abject, dismal failure. Stinker.
I read some remarks by Sofia Copola, regarding Marie Antoinette and her impetus for wanting to make this film. Finally got around to seeing it. Oy, what a stinker.
"My biggest fear was making a 'Masterpiece Theatre' kind of movie. I didn't want to make a dry, historical period movie with the distant, cold tableau of shots. It was very important to me to tell the story in my own way. In the same way as I wanted LOST IN TRANSLATION to feel like you had just spent a couple of hours in Tokyo, I wanted this film to let the audience feel what it might be like to be in Versailles during that time and to really get lost in that world." In this one stated goal of Ms. Copola's, I never had a ghost of a chance to feel like was anywhere near that world, the world of Versailles at that time. I was prevented from any possibility of entering that deliciously inviting world by a production that missed the mark in just about every possible way.
The gawd-awful contemporary popular rock music really makes it hard to feel anything relating to the 18c period. The songs were all VERY recognizable songs that commanded my attention, relegating the visual component of the film into a music video. Composers of film scores throughout the ages, and up to the present, use the very powerful tool of music to guide the audience's feelings and emotional response to the images on film. Ms. Copola has subjugated her role as director to making servile accompaniments to workmanlike rock music.
The costumes and hair were looking awfully shoddy. I mean to say that they looked nice, but they came nowhere near what is depicted of Marie Antoinette and other ladies of the court of Versailles in paintings and even other films. The high water mark for costumes, certainly for 18c French Royalty will have to remain with the 1938 version of Marie Antoinette, directed by Woody Van Dyke.
The casting was disappointing. If this film is supposed to ape the populist appeal of The Knight's Tale, then, it should be a lite enough effort with a young enough cast and a cursory and superficial gesture at costuming and settings to satisfy the 12 - 18 year old demographic whom will flock to this picture. Kirsten Dunst just does not look like anything other than a vivacious teenager. Marie Antoinette became queen at age nineteen, but she continued to sit as queen until her untimely death, just before her thirty-eighth birthday. Jason Schwartzman as a French noble who would be king? That's a stretch that is too hard to fathom.
The script was the final insult with dialogue written as though it were excerpted from any garden variety contemporary sit-com, with bad grammar, extremely casual and dumbed-down lexicon and sarcastic wisecracking. There was no hope for my being able to suspend disbelief even for a moment and buying into Sofia Copola's jejune effort at making a historical biopic with that kind of bad writing.
This film is a complete failure, but if it piques the imagination of young people enough to inspire them to learn a little more about the history of this time period and some of the principal characters in the story (which is FASCINATING! it's well worth the time and energy!!), then, it's not a completely wasted effort. But, as a film to be judged upon its own merits, this lame outing clearly demonstrates why contemporary American cinema is to be largely dismissed as garbage.
See the 1938 version of Marie Antoinette starring Norma Shearer, it too is flawed, but it will at least give you a more realistic depiction of life then and there.
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