October 18, 2006
Marie: The Verdict
So my friend, Patricia, was kind enough to invite me to an advance screening of Marie Antoinette on Monday night. Talk about lush, heavenly eye candy from start to finish!
I'm definitely, adamantly giving it a Romancing The Tome thumbs' up. I know the film bugs many people who have seen it, and so I went into the movie half expecting the thing to be a travesty. Having read a detailed bio of the queen earlier this year, I was surprised at just how much of her story Coppola was able to include in the two-hour film. (Of course, she left out a lot of the politics, both those of court and the political tension between France and Austria, of which Marie was trapped in the middle. Her extra-marital dalliances also seemed a bit glossed over, with only a lackluster nod to her relationship with Count Fersen.)
As for the movie's much maligned modern edge, I hardly noticed it. Yes, today's tunes were interspersed with period music, but in most cases, it worked well without being a distraction. There were a few exchanges of dialogue that sounded clearly out of place for 18th century Versailles, but if the point was to turn Marie Antoinette into someone wholly relatable, it worked. Kirsten Dunst's delivery always tends to be flat, and it seemed even more strange to hear her American accent mixed among others that were French and English. But what Dunst lacked in vocalese, she more than made up for in facial expressions. There were so many wonderful scenes where Dunst's face alone spoke volumes about what the queen must have felt at being dropped into the circus of the French court.
Along the way, she's transformed from mystified young girl to excessive coquette and finally, to a world-weary mother. Forget her affair with hottie Ferson, it's the strained yet poignant relationship between Marie and Louis XVI (played to great comic effect by Jason Schwartzman) that is the true love story of the movie.
And then, there are the visuals: Extravagant. Droolworthy. I coveted every one of the many gowns Dunst wore. The backdrop, interiors and costumes alone are worth eventually owning the DVD, just to have it perpetually play on mute as background prettiness. Visually, it's a masterpiece. To be honest, I didn't even notice the anachronisms sprinkled throughout the movie (like the pair of pink Converse All-Stars in Marie's closet, which I only read about afterwards...). Bottom line, Coppola's poetic license is fairly subtle. And besides, if throwing in a few modern tweaks is what it takes to woo a wider audience, fans of gorgous costume dramas should hardly complain. -- Amy