Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rose Byrne
Director: Sofia Coppola
Running Time: 123 mins
Marie Antoinette is an American film about the controversial life of the last Queen of France, from her arranged marriage to the heir to the throne until the end of the monarchy in the French Revolution.
A film that has thrown up so many opinions since day one, it’s fair to say that Marie Antoinette isn’t quite as simple as your average historical biopic. Far from perfect, the film struggles with a lack of engaging emotional drama, as well as some questionable stylistic choices that don’t go down quite as well as intended.
However, I still found Marie Antoinette a thoroughly interesting watch, largely because of its almost revisionist take on the last queen of France’s infamous reputation. It’s a very sympathetic look at her life, and though it’s not necessarily a film to rely on for historical accuracy, it’s a unique and interesting perspective that’s definitely worth your time.
Now, this movie does lack the gripping, resonant emotional drama that could have made it a far more engrossing watch, and it’s far from the most accurate retelling of history. With that in mind, you wouldn’t expect it to be much worth watching.
But where the film is lacking in accuracy and emotion it makes up for in fresh and thought-provoking ideas. We all know Marie Antoinette’s infamous ‘let them eat cake’ slogan as an example of her debaucherous and out-of-touch lifestyle, but this film takes what we already know about her and spins it in a really interesting way.
Fully sympathetic without being corny, writer-director Sofia Coppola brilliantly endears the infamous royal to you through cleverly-plotted storytelling and themes that paint her as an initially innocent, well-meaning woman who was caught up in the pressures of life in the French court.
Again, whether or not that’s historical fact is another matter, but this film tells its own story in thoroughly engaging fashion, striking up some eye-opening and thought-provoking truths that, while not perhaps about Marie Antoinette herself, shine fresh light on the history of France and the French Revolution.
Couple that sympathetic portrait with a warm and likeable performance from Kirsten Dunst, and Marie Antoinette proves a very watchable movie, with a whole lot more heart to it than you’ll find in your average historical biopic.
However, while the film’s unique historical perspective might be a plus, some of its other unorthodox choices aren’t quite as much. Its gorgeous costume and production design aside, Marie Antoinette doesn’t quite strike up an atmosphere of pomp and circumstance in the royal court as necessary.
It makes some strange stylistic decisions throughout (including the interesting but ineffective use of modern pop music), and that takes away from its potential as a thoroughly engrossing costume drama which, even without full historical accuracy, could have been an utter delight to watch from start to finish.
Overall, Marie Antoinette isn’t by any means a perfect film, and struggles to balance the good and bad of its unique approach. Sofia Coppola’s directing and screenplay are undeniably bold, and though some ideas fall flat, others are a breath of fresh air, with the film’s sympathetic portrait of Marie Antoinette the best part of all. Kirsten Dunst is wonderful in the lead role, and the costumes and sets are excellent too.
So, this film may not be the historical drama you’re looking for, but it is an interesting watch which, thanks to a unique perspective, is worth your time. And that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2 overall.