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In July 1789, the French Revolution is rumbling. Far from the turmoil, at the Château de Versailles, King Louis XVI, Queen Marie-Antoinette and their courtiers keep on living their usual carefree lives. But when the news of the storming of the Bastille reaches them, panic sets in and most of the aristocrats and their servants desert the sinking ship, leaving the Royal Family practically alone. Which is not the case of Sidonie Laborde, the Queen's reader, a young woman, entirely devoted to her mistress; she will not give her up under any circumstances. What Sidonie does not know yet is that these are the last three days she will spend in the company of her beloved Queen... Written by
Farewell My Queen screened recently at the Rendezvous with French Cinema festival in New York. A different take on the oft-told story of Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille, this French film focuses on the difficult behind-the-scenes life at Versailles. An "Upstairs Downstairs" at the grandest palace of all, the protagonist is not the queen but rather her "lectrice" - a lady in waiting whose job is to read books to the bored Marie Antoinette. The film is best at depicting the petty backstabbing, gossiping and ambitions of the hangers-on at court. The crowded and dirty "back stairs" rooms are vividly contrasted to the opulence of the grand state halls. A well acted, nicely paced historical drama.
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