Review: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Director Sofia Coppola’s latest feature, Marie Antoinette, has received a mix of praise and boos, beginning at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Some critics found it dull and disappointing, others called it intriguing and energetic.

And I think I found my favorite film of the year (<sorry Martin Scorcese).

Marie Antoinette opens with flashy black and pink credits and pop music blaring in the background. Marie (played by Kirsten Dunst) is briefly introduced; she is lying on a chaise lounge, wearing an elegant outfit, surrounded by cakes and having her shoes placed on her feet. While this scene illustrates how France saw Marie Antoinette at the height of her rule, through Marie Antoinette, Coppola hopes to paint a different picture of the ill-fated monarch .

Adapted from Antonia Fraser’s biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, the film narrates the life of Marie Antoinette beginning her arrival to Versailles from Austria as she meets her future husband, Louis-Auguste (Jason Schwartzman). Although the couple is expected to produce an heir to the throne, their marriage remains unconsumated for seven years. Additionally Marie Antoinette depicts the free-spending ways, emotional distress, and overall growth of the Queen as Dunst gives a charismatic performance.

However, the film itself is less a historical film and entirely Coppola’s artistic interpretation. From the use of contemporary pop music as scene narratives to the vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, and gorgeous set design, every element of the film is purely diretorial vision.

Most likely Marie Antoinette will not be nominated for any awards this season. But if you let yourself be taken away by magic of Sofia Coppola’s revisionist Versailles, the picture becomes a delight.

Updated October 11, 2010