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Marie Antoinette

A movie directed by Sofia Coppola

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  • May 28, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

"Marie Antoinette" - the film, not the woman- reminded me ever-so-dearly of one of my favorite films: "Amadeus". When a film can remind me of such fond movie-watching moments and experiences, it deserves recognition. I'm not completely sure how to put what I feel about "Marie Antoinette" into words, but I'll try; because if that is what I must do, then heck, that is what I must do.

Sofia Coppola directs this period piece; one of the few that was not intended as a historically accurate classic. As Ms. Coppola says, the film was "not intended as a history lesson", but rather her own unique, colorful, stylized vision of the story. Do not go for the facts; do not go for the (absolute) truth. They say that historically inaccurate story-telling is not good story-telling, but if "Marie Antoinette" is not flawless story-telling, then what does that leave it to be?

Most people would answer with "nothing". Many people are hard critics when it comes to "Marie Antoinette", which in a way, comes to no surprise. It's not the easiest film to warm up to, but it has charms that even the most pretentious of human beings cannot deny. It's a mess, for sure, but a very, very beautiful one, to say the least. Me, I think "Marie Antoinette" is a bold, fantastic, and often fascinating vision. Suffice to say, it may not be perfect, but it has more than enough of its own pleasures.

Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) was born into royalty; with opportunities (and not to mention foreign cakes) presented to her on a silver platter. Her life has been set out before her eyes; marry her second-cousin, the Dauphin of France (Jason Schwartzman), bring up many children with the man, and rule her little/big self-made kingdom.

Although her friend, Ambassador Mercy (Steve Coogan), cautions her against all this, Marie still continues to spend. But she also gives birth to children, and intends on raising them while her new husband is investing in war. What proceeds are lies, meetings with family (particularly Marie's brother, played by Danny Huston), and cake-eating. It's a feast of a movie; and oh, what a feast it is.

I couldn't take my eyes off the thing. It's a visual buffet of colors and design; so stylized to the point where, perhaps, one could get distracted from Sofia Coppola's artistic vision. I don't think that "Marie Antoinette" displays perfect story-telling; I think it displays perfect filmmaking. It's an extremely well-made project that humanizes the characters by giving them personalities, most of which almost mimic modern men and women. I imagine that this will stir some people up, but as Ms. Coppola said (and as I said), this is not a history lesson.

I suppose that if you want a history lesson, you should go see another film. "Marie Antoinette" intends to dazzle, and that is what it does. I got what I wanted; and even a little bit more. I didn't really know what to expect, and maybe that was the best way to go when it came to approach. I appreciate "Marie Antoinette", and I liked it a lot, I must confess. Half the fun is spotting out the many stars (some of which I have not mentioned include: Tom Hardy, Rip Torn, Asia Argento, Rose Byrne, and Judy Davis). Dunst is spectacular in the leading role; passionate about it, and able to have as much fun with it as Coppola is (with the material). And then, there is Jason Schwartzman; who is slightly less down-right awkward than he usually is. This is not a complaint, in fact, this is a compliment. I liked his unique approach to his character here; and Schwartzman, a fine actor, was the only one who could fit such shoes as he did. But then, the other half of the fun, I suppose, comes from whatever- and however- you choose to think of the movie. You can see it as either a pretentious fraud or a beautiful work of art.

Sofia Coppola undeniably made a better film with her previous "Lost in Translation". I admit that; I "get" that. "Lost in Translation" is one of my favorite films out there, and even though it's so damn good, "Marie Antoinette" can't surpass that kind of quality even with its high-budget wonders. But with that being said, I still think it's worth seeing. It's a very good film; well-made for sure, and visually seductive in so many ways. The critics scoff at the inclusion of rock-and-roll music, as well as the light-as-a-feather approach to the story, but me, I cannot complain. I like "Marie Antoinette" how it is. It is a "Sofia Coppola film". That is what it is; and that is what it wants to be: nothing more, and nothing less. While I refuse to call it perfect, "Marie Antoinette" is still one impressive piece of movie-making. Just let us eat cake. Coppola's cake.

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More Marie Antoinette (2006 movie) reviews
review by . February 16, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Sofia Coppola offers another look at history's infamous Marie Antoinette, the premise being that she was in life just a simple young Austrian girl delivered to France as a political queen candidate, who liked pretty things, loved children, flowers, clothes, shopping, and sweets, and lived a life oblivious to the political turmoil outside the confines of Versailles until it was too late. Coppola delivers her side of history with a maximum budget, endless sumptuous costumes, shoes, wigs, oft-changed …
review by . October 20, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Ms. Dunst, the comedy, the setting, costume, pomp      Cons: All others except Ms. Dunst are interchangeable.      The Bottom Line: This is a serious treat for the eyes. Go with that in mind and you won't be even a little disappointed.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      There is no denying why the French revolted in 1789. However, the opulence that was …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Sofia Coppola follows up her Oscar-winning LOST IN TRANSLATION with her most ambitious effort yet. Based on the book MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY by Antonia Fraser, Coppola's film infuses modern pop-culture elements into a regal, historical biopic, resulting in a strikingly original work. Kirsten Dunst plays Marie Antoinette, a 14-year-old Austrian who is about to wed France's next king, Louis XVI (a fattened-up Jason Schwartzman). Her new life is a constant barrage of pomp and circumstance, which baffles the otherwise ordinary teenager. While love has nothing to do with the union between Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, producing an offspring does. Unfortunately, Louis XVI shows no interest in having a physical relationship with his willing wife. Instead, Marie Antoinette begins to embrace her life of royalty, biding her time by shopping and partying and living the life of a spoiled teenager. As time passes, Louis XVI works out his problems and soon the couple has begun to bear children. But eventually,...

While much was made of the fact that Marie Antoinette elicited boos at Cannes, the many favorable reviews attracted less attention. Inspired by Antonia Fraser's biography, Sofia Coppola fashions a portrait that's just as dreamy as The Virgin Suicides, her first literary adaptation, and the Oscar-winning Lost in Translation. Set to a soundtrack of post-punk (a conceit that adds more interest than resonance), the teenaged Marie (Kirsten Dunst, quite good) ...

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Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Trevor Bardette, Lawrence Grant, Holmes Herbert, Nigel de Brulier, Aurore Clément, Frank Elliott, Frank Jaquet, Ivan Simpson, Harry Stubbs, William Steele, Rose Byrne, Barry Fitzgerald, Edward Keane, Henry Stephenson, Henry Daniell, Dominic Gould, Rip Torn, Reginald Gardiner, Anita Louise, Herbert Rawlinson, Harry Davenport, Olaf Hytten, Ian Wolfe, Victor Kilian, Theodore Von Eltz, Jacques Lory, Robert H. Barrat, Al Bridge, Anthony Warde, George Meeker, Scotty Beckett, Moroni Olsen, Judy Davis, Joseph Schildkraut, Claude King, John Burton, Mathieu Amalric, Tom Hardy, Asia Argento, Albert Dekker, Horace McMahon, Steve Coogan, George Zucco, Cecil Cunningham, Bea Nigro, Shirley Henderson, Robert Morley, Erville Alderson, Lionel Royce, Inez Palange, Lane Chandler, Richard Alexander, Alma Kruger, Dorothy Christy, Alain Doutey, John Barrymore, Peter Bull, Danny Huston, Joseph Malerba, Denis D'Auburn, Tyrone Power, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Walter Walker, William Doherty, Frank Campeau, Guy D'Ennery, Marianne Faithfull, Scali Delpeyrat, Carlo Brandt, Mae Busch, Molly Shannon, Kathrun Sheldon, Frank Swales, Jason Schwartzman, Billy Engle, Alexia Landeau, Henry Kolker, Esther Howard, George Kirby, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Howard Lang, Katrine Boorman, John Butler, Cora Witherspoon, Tom Rutherford, Joe Sheridan, Ramsay Hill, Ben Hall, Duke Lee, Buddy Roosevelt, Wade Crosby, Marilyn Knowlden, Ben Hendricks, Jr., Rafaela Ottiano, Zeffie Tilbury, Joseph Calleia, Harold Entwistle, Al Weaver, Leonard Penn, Corbet Morris, Mary Howard, Sarah Adler, James Lance, Barnett Parker, Jack George, Norma Shearer, John P. Arnold, Ruth Hussey, Jean-Paul Scarpitta, Francis Leplay, Brent Sargent, Jean-Marc Stehle, Hugh Huntley, Danny Duston, Mary Nighy, Sebastian Armesto, Jamie Dornan, Guillaume Gallienne, Clara Brajman, Mélodie Berenfeld, lo Bottoms, Celine Sallette, André Oumansky, René Lucien Rolland, Clementine Poidatz, Camille Miceli, Paul Fortune, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, Paul Jasmin, Raphaël Neal, Chloé Van Barthold, Lauriane Mascaro, Gaelle Bona, Florrie Betts, Jago Betts, Axel Küng, Driss Hugo-Kalff, Fabrice Scott, Bob Barrett, Gladys George, Thomas Braidon, George Houston, Helene Millard, Frank McGlynn, Jr., Alonzo Price, Guy Bates Post, Lyons Wickland
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 20, 2006,
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Sofia Coppola
DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
Runtime: 2hrs 2min, 2hrs 40min
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