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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Marie Antoinette (2006)


Just eat cakes! Who cares if she said it or not!

If you were the one who fell asleep during “the French portion” of World History Class, don’t worry; this movie has you covered. Kirsten Dunst plays the Archduchess of Austria and soon-to-be Queen of France from her beginning days where her and her husband, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) struggle to bang and get pregnant, to the latter where she had a whole country demanding her head. Funny how time changes, isn’t it?

Even though I know the song about her, and I know the (untrue) statement she apparently made, I still know a lot about Marie Antoinette; who she was, what she did, and all of the other background shizz about her. No, it’s not that I’m some weird dude who enjoys looking up historical figures, it’s mainly because the class I’m taking now for college, just got done covering her, France at the time, and the aftermath. So, yeah, basically: I know my shit.

Apparently, by the looks of it, Sofia Coppola doesn’t. There were plenty of times in this flick where I wanted to slap her, or slap something by all of the historical inaccuracies here, solely for the fact that it probably would have helped the film. I get that Coppola couldn’t be any less concerned with the nitty-bitty details of M-A’s life, but when you have a movie that’s focusing on making her a sympathetic/real person; you need to have all of those details in there and not simply make random shit up. I don’t mind when a movie does that just for shits and gigs, but it didn’t feel right here. It felt like Coppola tried to do whatever she could to keep this movie fun, entertaining, and interesting, but even taking liberties with the story didn’t seem to help either. Something else was going on here that I still need to put my finger on.

Ehh, I've seen bigger and more lush!

Ehh, I’ve seen bigger and more lush!

Coppola has that certain style to her directing and writing that works wonders, and other times; totally misses the mark. Here’s one of the latter-instances. Coppola is a gifted-filmmaker in the way that she is able to tell a story and an emotion, not just through having the characters say something, but by giving us a visual or a single-shot that convey whatever it is that she wants to convey. She’s one of the very-rare filmmakers that can do that now, and actually get away with it without being labeled as “pretentious”, “snobby”, or “an artsy-farsty mofo”. However, it doesn’t aid in her in anyway here, and makes the story seem duller instead.

For instance, there are plenty of scenes where it seems as if Coppola didn’t really seem to worry too much about the story, and decided to focus on what made the movie look pretty. It works, that’s for sure, but it does seem like over-kill and a bit of a waste, considering that this is a 2 hour film, that’s primarily dedicated to shots of Dunst playing in the grass and looking happy. Once again, doesn’t matter if you want to pull off a good shot once or twice, but when it starts to take over the rest of the movie and get rid of the substance, then it gets dull. Very, very dull.

But I can’t talk too much crap on Coppola and her visuals, because she does a hell of a great job with them. Not only is this movie beautiful from head-to-toe, but it’s also very impressive by all that it was able to capture on film. Apparently Coppola was actually able to film in and out of the actual Versailles, which is an opportunity that Coppola does not take for granted, considering she makes us feel as if we really are with all of these high-class, royal S.O.B’s, and watching them as they party, drink, smoke, have sex, fondle, and play games as if they were at a P. Diddy party.

Oh, and they are all doing it to the sweet tunes of whatever the hell Coppola had on her iPod at the time of filming. In the beginning of the flick, we get a bits and pieces of actual, alternative-rock songs playing somewhere in the background, but for the most part; Coppola keeps it cool with the anachronisms. Then, out of nowhere, Coppola seems to have had enough with 18th Century ways, and decides to unleash what she’s got ringing in her ears, and it’s all thanks to that Bow Wow Wow song that you’ve heard a million times (and done better by this guy, by the way). After this track comes seemingly out of nowhere, then Coppola goes ball to the walls with any punk rock/alt. rock song in the history of man that she can find, and it works more than it doesn’t, because it actually glues you into the party-atmosphere that these snobs seem to be reveling in. Goes to show you that Tarantino and Luhrmann aren’t alone when it comes to using songs randomly, but perfectly to fit a tone.

The fact that Coppola was able to make this story more centered towards M-A, what she went through, how she got through it, and all of the problems she had to overcome, worked in most areas, but didn’t in others. The areas that it did work in were all thanks to Kirsten Dunst as M-A because she gives not only a great performance that shows her being young, nimble, wild, and free to do whatever she wants and (sort of) get away with it, but it’s also a very subtle one in the way that she’s able to convey so many feelings this lady must have been going through in real-life. The fact that M-A was so young when she got married, was forced to get pregnant, and basically thrown on the throne as queen is something that makes you think about how she got over all of it, but also makes you feel for her a bit, the same way you would want someone to feel for you, had you been thrown into the same situation. This part of the character is where Dunst works best in and once the movie decides to drop the champagne, the cakes, and the sex-games, then that’s when Dunst decides to take herself a bit seriously and you see a young girl who has seemingly come into her own. However, as we all know: it was too little, too late for her.

"Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year."

“Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year.”

In a role that seemed more like an in-joke, rather than anything worth even taking seriously, Jason Schwartzman does fine with what he has to do as Louis XVI, but the movie isn’t all that bothered with him or his character. The whole first-half of the movie is practically dedicated to him just being a pansy, not being able to make love to his wife, and knocking her up. Once that’s all said and done with, then the guy is shown as a pansy who can’t keep his wife satisfied and basically allows for her to stay at these parties where she (presumably) bangs other dudes. Don’t know how much of that is actually true, but from what I’m able to gather: Louis XVI was a bit of a wimp.

The rest of the cast is fine and seem like they had a great time going on the set for a little play-date they liked to call dress-up. Rip Torn plays the philandering king to perfection because he’s grimy as you could imagine; Asia Argento loves scumming it up as the whore that the king is philandering with; Judy Davis does her usual, weird-face thingy that we all know her for; and Steve Coogan is here as well, but not really doing anything funny. When you have “The Coogs” in a movie, I don’t care what it is: you have to make him do or say something in the least-bit funny. Without any of that, what’s the point of even having him around in the first-place? Just for show? Baloney!

Consensus: Coppola’s style and vision slows the feel and pace of Marie Antoinette down, especially when it doesn’t need to, but at least it’s still left to be seen with it’s beautiful look, desired-attention to the finer-details (talking about the set-pieces, not the actual story), and fine performance from Dunst in the lead role, that showed that she was maturing more and more by the roles she began to take.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"One day, you're going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, just like your mother was."

“One day, you’re going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, who wasted all of her country’s money on lavish parties to satisfy your boredom.”

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16 responses to “Marie Antoinette (2006)

  1. FH7 Productions June 11, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Reblogged this on Comics by Andrea Menzies and commented:
    My great-great grandpa was named Mesmer and dated Marie Antoinette. I crap you not, true story. It is in fact true that she never said “Let them eat cake.”

  2. ninvoid99 June 11, 2013 at 4:47 am

    I think this film was extremely misunderstood. I’m a history buff myself but what Sofia did was essentially base the film from the biography written by Antonia Fraser which many consider to be the most accurate portrayal of Marie Antoinette.

    With films like these, we’re expected everything to have everything be accurately detailed and have the music be in tune with the times. What Sofia does is throw away the rule book and create a story that played more into a young woman’s disconnect with the world as she is yearning to find some fulfillment in the role she’s destined to play. It’s not meant to be accurate historically as we do see a pair of Converse shoes in the background. It’s meant to be sort of anachronistic and it’s also meant to defy expectations by putting contemporary music in the film.

    For me, putting Siouxsie & the Banshees and Bow Wow Wow made sense because of the way the music is played and with its time signatures which is similar to what people were listening to at the time. It does get old late in the film but a lot of the choices Sofia makes actually works since there a lot of similarities to what was happening in the late 70s in Britain after punk rock sank where people wanted something more upbeat in the New Romantics movement which borrowed heavily from the clothes of those times.

    It is easy to see why this film got the notorious reception it had at Cannes because it didn’t play by the rules. A typical bio-pic would do those things but it wouldn’t be very interesting as it would take too many dramatic liberties to make the story more accessible. What Sofia did was quite daring as a filmmaker as it made her aware that she may not be everyone’s cup of tea. She is certainly someone who will not do the expected as I expect The Bling Ring to be something different from what the audience will want to see.

    • CMrok93 June 12, 2013 at 5:10 am

      Man, you really gave this one some thought. I liked the movie and Coppola’s risky moves she made, but it didn’t always work for me like I would have wished.

  3. Tom June 11, 2013 at 5:45 am

    “Asia Argento loves scumming it up as the whore that the king is philandering with; Judy Davis does her usual, weird-face thingy that we all know her for; and Steve Coogan is here as well, but not really doing anything funny.” — haha this part just cracks me up, i don’t exactly know why but this is a good description of everyone (also including the bit about Rip Torn, i’m actually more drawn to this now that he’s in it). I have never even heard of this movie, might have to give it a try

  4. Lights Camera Reaction June 11, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I’d probably rate it a little higher than you, but I still found it above average. It was very pretty to look at, and Dunst gave a great performance. However, at the end I was thinking…what was the point haha?

    Nice review :)

  5. sati June 11, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Great review! The first time I saw the movie I disliked it but I enjoyed it much more on a rewatch, the visuals are so incredible it makes it worth seeing.

  6. Teddy Casimir June 12, 2013 at 2:06 am

    This movie is in my top 50. I think it’s Coppola’s best. But it seems most people either love or don’t much care for it/forget about it.

  7. Pingback: Linked 11/6: Super Sweet Summary of Two Weeks | Mettel Ray Movie Blog

  8. Immodestia June 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Reblogged this on Admit One Film Addict and commented:
    Loved this movie and it’s old school goth OST!

  9. SuSu September 4, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I had reached the point in my life where I could not bare the idea of seeing another historical-costume-drama. The thought of seeing another actor attempting the stilted period lingo and mello-drama gives me a headache, BUT Miss Coppola has undone my pain with this fresh take on the period drama, with her lovely and off-beat MARIE-ANTOINETTE. Usually you watch the piece from afar, thinking, “Wow, life sure was hard back then,” but you never really can relate to the characters, but Coppola breaks tradition in a completely refreshing way, so that you can really understand these characters. She uses modern day music (not like the horrible A KNIGHT’S TALE did) and hand held camera work. Her style is much more free and alive. She takes her time with the material so that we get a feel for time period and all of the free time they had. The acting is first rate, other than a mis-cast Rip Torn who’s a little too over-the-top. If you’ve enjoyed her other movies (THE VIRGIN SUICIDES & LOST IN TRANSLATION), then you are sure to enjoy this film. But if you are looking for another stilted period drama with forced accents and dead camera work then rent THE PARTRIOT or VANITY FAIR. I really enjoyed MARIE-ANTIONETTE, though I’m not sure how historically accurate it is, it’s a fine film. Some have criticized Coppola for making a French subject so American, but that is not the point, she has created an accessible historical biopic, that people of MARIE-ANTIONETTE’s age could enjoy and relate to.

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