Skip to main content

Movie Review: Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006)

I have been looking forward to watching Marie Antoinette for quite some time. This movie was directed by Sofia Coppola, who also directed the heartbreaking Virgin Suicides. Both of these movies deal with females who become marginalized in a male-driven society. This truly is a shame, because God created women to be treasured and loved. Yet in this movie, Antoinette is only valued for her ability to bear an heir. Until she does, all she hears is criticism and how precarious her situation is. I still remember a moment in the Virgin Suicides. The character played by Josh Hartnett is finally able to deflower Kirsten Dunst as the "lead virgin." Up until that moment, he was totally obsessed with her. When she finally made love to him, he abandons her on a football field. She does the walk of shame alone into her house. I remember thinking how unfair this was. After she gave away the great treasure of her virginity, she lost all possibility of being interesting to his character.

I had this same sense of injustice in my mind as I watched Marie Antoinette.

Antoinette did not choose her course. She is sent off from her home so that Austria and France can have an alliance through her marriage to Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman). When she arrives, you can sense her loneliness. She walks up the aisle of the court like an enthusiastic teenager because she is one! Her new courtiers seem appalled by her. Does she have to smile so much? She greets everyone with enthusiasm, which is quickly quenched by the constant gossip and disapproving looks. This is a society based on backbiting and social climbing. You get up by pushing others down, and Antoinette never fully accepts this rule, which gives her more appeal and eventually leads to her downfall.

Dunst plays the role beautifully; she is little more than a child. Her husband doesn't seem too set on making the aforementioned heir, but instead of just sitting around for him to change his mind, she has fun. She claps at the opera (scandalous; applause wasn't allowed!) and spends money on shoes, clothing, and jewelry of all colors. That she does this is totally understandable. Why shouldn't she shop when her husband denies her night after night? Jason Schwartzman plays a great dauphin-and-later-king. He is timid and boring as can be. Antoinette and he later develop a camaraderie, which is more of a friendship. The two are friendly and affectionate to one another, but it had the chemistry of a Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett in My Best Friend's Wedding.

This is not a movie where a bunch of stuff happens. Stuff does happen, but it is watching Antoinette develop into her queen-self, which is the joy of this movie. She never becomes the sexless queen like Queen Elizabeth (think Cate Blanchett in the last moments of 1998's Elizabeth), but she does develop a royal demeanor without losing her femininity. At the end, when the French storm the Bastille, Antoinette refuses to leave her King's side, proving her strength and endurance.

A word about the soundtrack: yes, Yes, YES, Yes! I love the soundtrack. When the newly crowned King and his Queen walk down the stairs to the Cure's Plainsong, I actually shed a tear. It was so great to hear some of these songs come back to life.

All in all, Marie Antoinette is a masterpiece, which rates as one of my favorite period pieces, along with the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice and The Affair of the Necklace.


Popular posts from this blog

Riley Stearns' The Art of Self-Defense (2019) Movie Review: Do NOT Talk About Night Class

In 1999, David Fincher directed the book to movie Fight Club, a dark stylized comedy about a group of men who form a "support group" of sorts called Fight Club, where they pair up for no holds barred unarmed first fights with one another. Organized by the charismatic Tyler Durden, for a time, the meetings seem to be a good thing. Things start to spiral when the hero realizes Tyler is no good and must be stopped.

In many surface ways, The Art of Self-Defense is quite similar. Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) walks around like he is apologizing for taking up oxygen. He lives alone with his dog and works at a boring, thankless job as an accountant. One day, Jesse is attacked on the street by some unidentified motorcycle riders. He's hospitalized for his wounds and takes some times off work.

On a walk around town, he overhears a karate class and goes into observe. He feels intrigued and inspired by what he sees and decide to sign up for classes. He hopes that he can "become wha…

Ali Abassi's Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregn…