Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Movie Night: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Sophia Coppola proved that she could carry on the Coppola name well when she directed Lost In Translation, and found an audience for it. With Marie Antoinette she continues to show her eye for visual detail, and storytelling. Some people may not be too fond of the modern music used to back the 1700s setting, nor the fact that Marie Antoinette's popular finale in life was cut out. After getting to know Marie through the eyes of Sophia for two hours it was probably best left that we didn't see that ending though as she cast her in a light we don't often think about, or want to consider.

In this telling of Marie Antoinette's life we see her as a young, and naive 15 year old who is sent from Austria to France to marry the prince, Louis XVI. We then follow her toward the reign of being at the age of 19, the birth of her children, and her rumored affairs all the way to the of her reign as queen, and ultimately the end of Versailles. Along the way we see Marie grow from a teen girl lost in the rock star life of being a royal, and grow into a mother who seemed to have a fierce loyalty to her husband and children.

Approach this movie as it is one person's telling of Marie's story. A lot of people probably have set opinions about her, but just let the story take over for this one. Don't treat movies as historical fact as most aren't. This film does try to explain another version of the controversial quote "Let Them Eat Cake", and it actually tries to see why Marie would be so unaware of the poverty happening if it is true what happened. Basically, she's always been rich and spoiled, and having children seemed to be the pinnacle of bringing her back to reality in the movie. After that she is now a "stand by her man" type of woman, and will do anything to protect her children.

Kirsten Dunst is sort of the indie movie queen. There is something about Dunst that was perfect for this role though. It can be very difficult to make a person like this anyone we feel for, and yet she pulls it off.  There is also Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI. Schwartzman has always been good about being quiet characters who exude a lot of personality, and he doesn't fail in doing that with this role either. He is actually quite memorable even though at the tie of watching you don't feel he is. You have other performances too like Rose Byrne as Duchesse de Polignac, and Molly Shannon as Aunt Victoire. The other characters in this movie are lost behind Marie though, because she is the main character, and so mesmerizing when she is on screen that you tend to just zone in on her. This is why Schwartzman does a good job because he somehow still pulls through to be memorable even after.

You can also tell this movie was shot by a woman because it appeals to so many sense that a woman would notice. It's tinted in lots of pastel, and bright colors. When Marie is out in nature you see what she enjoys about it. The only thing that might bug most viewers is that Coppola uses a lot of modern music instead of relying on music that would have been around then to tell it. For some this might add to the experience, and personality of Marie, but for the ones that like everything to be set right in that time to get immersed fully in that area you might not quite get that.

This movie is about one person, and it builds on that one person. The music, the scenery, the people even surrounding the character are all to try to describe aspects of her the director wants to bring to life. It's not going to be the movie you go to form your own opinion of the popular figure, but it is an enjoyable watch for the costumes, acting, and shots. Just know that considering the perspective you get of Marie her ending was thankfully left out of the film.

Rating 4 of 5.

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