MARIE ANTOINETTE. (2006) DIRECTED BY SOFIA COPPOLA. SCREENPLAY BY SOFIA COPPOLA. BASED ON THE BIOGRAPHY, ‘MARIE-ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY,’ BY ANTONIA FRASER.
STARRING KIRSTEN DUNST, ASIA ARGENTO, RIP TORN, JASON SCHWARTZMAN AND STEVE COOGAN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Humph. Clearly, I’m in the wrong business. As a struggling writer, no-one ever feeds me delightfully coloured-and-flovoured macaroons from a charming china plate or sends me shoes and dresses one could literally imagine dying for.
That’s because I’m not the bleedin’ Queen of France, lol. And, in some ways, of course, I’m glad I’m not, because I get to keep my head on my shoulders. On the other hand, I’ve never lived as deliciously as Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis the Sixteenth of France…
Kirsten INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE Dunst- she plays Claudia- does a fabulous job as Marie Antoinette of France, who starts life as Marie Antonia, the youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.
In 1770, her mother gives her in marriage to Louis-Auguste, the young Dauphin of France, in order to cement relations between France and Austria, though the poor girl is often referred to disparagingly by her new countrymen-and-women as ‘the Austrian’ and treated like an outsider or an alien even after years at court.
Her new life at the Palace of Versailles in France is one of ridiculous, stuffed-shirt-style restrictions (see what a rigmarole they make out of her getting up and dressed in the morning!) mingled with jaw-dropping opulence and eye-popping splendour. You’ve never seen the like of her bedroom in the Palace. It’s like something out of a beautiful dream.
Her days, once she starts getting the hang of things, are spent drinking champagne, even at breakfast, eating the most divinely-coloured and presented pastries, giggling and bitching with her handmaidens about the other multitudes who all seem to live at the palace on the tax-payer’s dollar, and trying on the most fabulous clothes and shoes you’ve ever seen in your life, all sent to her by France’s top designers.
The suffocating nature of the court means that Marie Antoinette is never alone, and doesn’t seem to be encouraged by anyone to explore her creative side, by drawing, painting, singing, writing, reading or engaging in intellectual conversation. To most of France, though, I suppose she just represented a working womb…
Her husband, who becomes King Louis the Sixteenth of France at age nineteen after his own father dies, isn’t up to much as a husband. For a whopping eight years, Louis and his Queen, Marie Antoinette, don’t produce so much as a semen stain in the baby stakes.
Then, ironically, kablamo, two sons and a daughter, possibly the result of Marie Antoinette’s older brother explaining the mechanics of love-making to Louis in terms of the younger man’s obsessive interest in lock-smithing and key-making. Well, I suppose you might say there’s a key for every door and a door for every key…
For Marie Antoinette, the appearance of children would have ended eight years of being sniped at by nasty, spiteful courtiers for her supposed barrenness. It was her husband’s ineptness in the bedroom that kept her childless; that, and maybe her mother telling her by letter every five minutes that her place, first as the Dauphine of France and then as Queen, was only secure as long as there was an heir to the throne. Way to pile on the pressure, Ma!
I love Asia Argento as the stunningly sexy Madame Du Barry, mistress to the horny old King, Louis the Fifteenth of France. Marie Antoinette refuses to acknowledge Madame Du Barry initially, as she’s a commoner hastily married off to a toff so she can come to court and be with the old King, but when she’s urged by her advisors not to snub the woman, she eventually sees the wisdom of their words.
Comedian Steve Coogan is great in his role of Austrian diplomat and Marie Antoinette’s chief advisor, Florimund Claude, Count of Mercy-Argenteau. It’s his job to point out when the young Queen is failing in her duties or committing social gaffes, but he does it so nicely she doesn’t hold it against him.
Marie Antoinette is not very popular with the people of La Belle France. They call her ‘Madame Deficit’ due to her outrageous spending on clothes, luxuries and entertainment, including gambling. Meanwhile, France’s economic situation is dire and the ordinary people are suffering terribly from hunger and disease.
Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, keeps to the palace of Versailles for her plot and doesn’t venture out onto the streets of France where a revolution is fermenting, which is an interesting take on the situation. She doesn’t ignore the Revolution, however. We know when the shit is about to hit the fan all right…
What a glorious display of colour, what a cool soundtrack for such a period movie (The Cure, New Order, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Adam and the Ants all feature), what magnificent settings and fantastically elaborate costumes and hairstyling!
The super-lavish film won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, and Marie Antoinette’s darling little (Austrian) puppy dog, Mops, walked off with the Palme Dog, just for showing up and looking adorable!
A gorgeous film overall, best-looking thing I’ve seen all year, and I’ve seen yer man who works in the Spar by the… Oh well, no need to blab my private business on the Internet. Enjoy the film; and don’t forget, it leaves Netflix on New Year’s Eve…!
PS, what about her famously unsympathetic line, ‘Let them eat cake?’ Did she say it? Did she not? She actually says in the film that she didn’t…! Do you believe her? Watch the film and try to work it out!