Am I to be Austrian or the Dauphine of France?”
“You must be both.”
— Ambassador Mercy
Let me start by saying, before I get into the actual film and plot and characters and what have you, that this may very well be the prettiest movie I have ever seen. The movie literally looked like cake (pun, oh so very much intended). I was as giddy as our heroine looking at the layered dresses, the buckled shoes and the highest hair I've ever seen. Visually Sophia Coppola nailed the eccentricities of the Queen of Versailles, making me ponder what the budget for this film must have been (according to IMDb, it was $40 million. Excuse me while I swoon in my waist-tightening corset). The film gets all five stars for just looking fucking fantastic.
Now's when I get into the meatier business of the film. Or, I suppose I should say fluffy nothingness of the film. Before you get all haughty, I mean fluffy nothingness with the highest regards. Once again, Coppola nailed what must have been one of the most boring existences ever. Boring you say? How could this be? This was one of the most outlandish Queens in recent history (or so I assume, as I am by no means a history scholar). However could you call her boring? Let's take a walk through this movie shall we?
When all one has to do is look pretty and buy things, I would not call one's existence well-rounded. The film shows next to none of the political upheaval that was occurring at the time, both to its detriment and benefit. It was about the confined, lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous at the time. And it was confined. Coppola's film was executed in long scenes with little to no dialogue and through whispers. If one wasn't gossipping, one really had nothing to talk about. All there was to do was make appearances and create an heir. Unfulfilling indeed.
These may all seem like criticisms of the movie, when in fact, I thought all these instances of creating Marie Antoinette's world to be spot on. I felt the boredom of the bourgeoisie, I felt the little joyous buzz after buying a new dress, I felt the impatience of having to observe absurd protocol at all hours of the day. And of course, I felt the sadness and loneliness of our heroine, played to a tee by Kristen Dunst.
Though the film wraps before Marie Antoinette's untimely demise we can see by the last scene that she has resigned herself to her fate. Though the film would have benefited from more than maybe two scenes prior to the finale about the state of France at the time, Marie Antoinette's final line about "saying goodbye" to not only Versailles but her life as she knew it, is both poignant and powerful.
FINAL TALLY: All in all, the film was really quite good because it was believable. It didn't glamorize Marie Antoinette's life, despite all of the glamorous people, parties and pastries that populated it. It showed it as it was probably experienced: frustrating, beautiful and full of cake.
I give this film 4/5 stars.