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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
Before going in to see Farewell, My Queen, I really did not know too much about it and now I am glad that I knew little to nothing about the film before I saw it. I knew it was about Marie Antoinette, but that was about it. I haven't seen too many films about Marie Antoinette, other than Sofia Coppola's 2006 film which I liked quite a bit. Both films offer a different look and perspective on her, one of the things I really liked about this film as well. Lea Seydoux does a terrific job playing Sidonie Laborde, who is Marie Antoinette's reader. Seydoux allows her character to have a very curious side to her and at times she is really determined to stand up for what she believes in and can be forceful all at the same time as having an innocence to her as most young women do. It's a great performance and one that I hope leads to a successful career for her. Diane Kruger, who plays Marie Antoinette does a good job as well, but at times I did find her performance a tad melodramatic and so sometimes it felt a bit forced, or over the top. However, both Seydoux and Kruger both do show infatuation and they show it well. I can not go into any more detail than that, or I would ruin the film, but Kruger is especially good at showing Marie Antoinette's more softer and human side. A side that recognizes her fear, her flaws and truths about her own personality. Seydoux's character Sidonie is so loyal to the queen that she almost loves her, but as the film goes on, we are not really sure why. The queen can be very vicious and uncaring to Sidonie, but yet this young woman cares deeply about the queen and what is in the queen's best interest is most important for Sidonie putting the queen's needs even ahead of her own. As, I got thinking about the film, I think this part of it really had an impact on me and touched me and made me think in several ways. Here is a young woman who is more, or less an orphan and goes about her life serving and thinking of ways to keep the queen happy even though she herself lives in squalor and does not have the material wealth, possessions, or honour that the queen has. The queen seems to have everything and yet seems only to think about herself, whereas Sidonie was born with nothing and lives with nothing, but feels in her heart and soul that it is her job to serve the queen and she will do so no matter what, even if there could be consequences to her decisions. My only other complaint about the film was that at times it did feel a bit rushed and maybe moved from one event to another quite quickly, but that did not stop my enjoyment of the film, I think it just asks us as viewers to be a little more patient and do some of the character analysis, or study on our own, or even after the film is over. Even though the film does move by fast we are especially treated to a very good character study of Sidonie, who I think is the most interesting character in the film and probably the one we can relate to and even care about the most. She seems the most human whereas everyone else really does seem to be looking out for themselves and not really caring about what happens to the person next to them. The film does a credible job of showing the majestic costumes and lavish clothes and settings where Marie Antoinette lives, but at the same time it shows the dark and dingy place where Sidonie eats and sleeps and basically calls home. There is an element here showing a class struggle between these two characters and the more you think of it, the more evident it becomes. Farewell, My Queen is a good looking film with a terrific performance by Lea Seydoux, good character study and a film that gives us much to think about and even more to appreciate after the film is over and we have thought it over for awhile. As, I have said before, this is the quality of a great film.
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