Thursday, April 12, 2007

Movie Review: Marie Antoinette

It's been a week since The Spouse and I watched "Marie Antoinette" and I find my initial sense of it unchanged. It is a very beautiful movie. Very, very beautiful. And completely insubstantial.

Coppola manages to use images more than words to convey the tedium and ridiculous protocols of the Versailles court. The anachronistic use of modern day speech and musical selections like Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" totally worked for me. Coppola seemed to be exploring the notion of royalty as pop star and on that level the film completely succeeds. She uses nifty devices to hit some of the historical high points of Marie's life. All good.

But in the end, it is a 3 hour film with no story. For example, Marie and Louis failed to consummate their marriage for quite some time. There was scene after scene of the two of them sitting in bed not doing anything. OK. But after a while you wonder why 2 healthy young people who seemed to actually get along pretty well considering it was an arranged marriage aren't doing the deed. No one was making the case that he was gay. So what gives? The question is never successfully answered. Lots of nothing, then there's something and a baby. Huh?

Marie Antoinette's life has been endlessly interesting to biographers and historians and certainly her complexities, and those of the time, make for more fodder than might be adequately explored in a feature length film. But I'd think that a film-maker of Coppola's ability might pick at least one aspect of Marie's life and times on which to focus a story. But instead the seeds of the French revolution, the relationship of Marie to Louie, Marie to the court, Marie to the French people is all given the most cursory, if lip smacking good, gloss-over.

3 hours is a nice bit of time and given Sofia Coppola's talent as a storyteller, in the end the movie was disappointing. It was like a snacking on a meringue when what one really needs is a nice bit of meat: it takes the edge off but hardly satisfies one's hunger.
out of 5

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Blogger rosemary opined...

Two things if I may....I am going to read Abundance soon...about M.A....I usually don't like modern twists of history.
next...there is a book out about the Gilmore Girls a show I know you watch...I don't, so the title may be off...?Coffee at Luke's...or maybe...A Cup at Lukes? I'd go with the first one. If I had a whizbangspiffo computer I could look at B&N and your blog and tell you exactly. But, you may already know about the book and the gerbils are tired today. I may need to get all girl rodents....they fight a lot and may go faster. I never read Kurt.

April 12, 2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

I like this review. You could do this professionally.

If I ever start a newspaper, you do movies and cooking. Dan Winter will write about travel. Jon can write about whatever he wants except rap music. He can be the paper's hamster and nutmeg correspondent.

April 12, 2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger gina opined...

Thanks for the review. I will probably still watch the movie, but won't expect much. Having recently immersed myself in all things Marie Antoinette as a result of YS doing a research paper on her and me editing it, I know what they believe was the reason the marriage wasn't consummated, and it wasn't that he was gay. It's surprising they didn't address that in the film, though, since that was a huge reason MA was not liked by the French - the inability to produce an heir for so long. It is said that she grew to truly love Louis, and of course, she was far more concerned with the plight of the people than we were ever led to believe in our history books.

I am sad about Vonnegut... I really love his work. Charlie said this: "yes, a sad day for all humans who are, irrevocably and unarguably, without exception now that vonnegut is gone, nuts." So it goes.

April 12, 2007 3:47 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric opined...

Three hours? Good lord, I had no idea. I'm scratching that one off of the Netflix queue. I already have "I Want Candy" on the iPod, so ... no worries there. Thanks for the tip.

April 12, 2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

A book about the Gilmore girls? Lead me to it! Poor gerbils.

That would be very cool, Iwanski. I'm in. When do we start? Hamster and nutmeg correspondent. Snort.

Gina, You won't be sorry. It's a perfectly fluffy movie. The fact that you have adjusted expectations will make it all the more pleasant.

You're welcome, Red.

April 12, 2007 7:32 PM  
Blogger Citymouse opined...

Thank you, now i wont watch it for sure...when do i sit for 3 hours anyway????

April 13, 2007 6:33 AM  
Blogger Eric opined...

Although Lorraine is correct in her assesment, I still found the film to be visually entertaining (Kirsten Dunst's bottom) and do not completely regret the watching.

April 13, 2007 7:30 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

CM, It would be just the thing if you're ever sick in bed...pretty to look at but you wouldn't have to try and follow the plot because there isn't one.

I'm just going to ignore my husband, btw.

April 13, 2007 7:50 AM  
Blogger greeny opined...

I watched the movie. Yes, it was a bit fluffy but I did enjoy it for the fluff and the style. What you said about it being like meringue when one needs meat is completely right.
Iwanski is right of course. You could review professionally.

April 13, 2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger barista brat opined...

visually i loved the film. the costumes, the colors, and of course versailles.

everything else i hated.
especially the totally fabricated love affair between her and fersen (i've read at least eight biographies on marie antoinette - one in french even).

dunst is annoying, the dialogue was annoying, the incomplete storytelling was extremely annoying.

i guess the one scene i thought was extremely well done was the one in the pavilion where she ends her austrian life and begins her french one.

sorry to rant. i've spent three hours editing pages and my brain is fried.

April 15, 2007 9:05 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Greeny, Iwanski has hired me to write about movies and food for his newspaper. Of course, he doesn't actually have a newspaper, but when he does, I'm going pro.

Brat, You just come on over here and rant any time.

April 16, 2007 9:39 AM  

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