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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.86%
Worth A Look: 18.57%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 14.29%

6 reviews, 34 user ratings

Marie Antoinette
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by EricDSnider

"Let them eat popcorn."
3 stars

Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" has already gained notoriety for being booed when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival -- though as its star, Kirsten Dunst, has pointed out, it was mostly the locals who booed it, and you can hardly blame them. If a French director made a film about George Washington and cast a Frenchman in the lead, American audiences probably wouldn't be very happy with it either.

The film isn't worthy of boos. What it is worthy of, I'm not entirely sure. Coppola has jammed it with contradictions and anachronisms, apparently wanting us to take it seriously while simultaneously not taking it seriously. Some parts are funny. Other parts are also funny, but unintentionally so. There are outstanding elements, such as the lavish costumes and production design, and ludicrous elements, like how every time the characters speak formally -- "Your majesty! The peasants are staging a revolt; you must return at the castle at once!" -- they sound like high school students doing a Shakespeare play.

Coppola wasn't trying to make a historical epic, but the basics of history are adhered to: Marie Antoinette leaves her native Austria in 1768 to marry the king's son (Jason Schwartzman); she and hubby Louis XVI become the king and queen, live sumptuous lives of empty frivolity, and are eventually deposed by the starving populace. But the details -- well, none of the principals are doing French or even European accents; there's Rip Torn as King Louis XV, with his very American growl, and Valley Girl Kirsten Dunst as Marie herself. In her spare time (which is pretty much all her time), Marie goes shopping and gets her hair done with her girlfriends, the way a modern woman her age would. The only difference is that because it's 18th-century France, "shopping" means bringing in the royal tailor to show you his latest creations, and "getting your hair done" means having the royal wigmaker see how tall he can pile it up before it tips over.

The music is as contradictory as the rest of the picture, with period-appropriate Mozart mixed in with vintage punk rock and New Wave pop. It matches Marie herself: young and girlie (she was 14 when she married Louis) and modern for her time, yet also centuries removed from what the audience considers "modern" to be.

As she has done in her previous films "The Virgin Suicides" (which also starred Dunst) and "Lost in Translation," Coppola focuses much of her attention here on her characters' melancholy boredom. Marie is surprised at how much foolish protocol is involved in being the dauphin and later the queen; there is an elaborate ritual requiring a dozen attendants just to get her dressed in the morning. Royal life is vacuous and dull.

The film sometimes slips into doldrums, too -- it's hard to depict boredom without being boring -- but that is not its chief problem. The trouble here is that while many of the characters are quaintly amusing, they are not full-bodied individuals. They don't seem real (which is ironic, considering they WERE real), and so we don't feel connected to them. Asked to care when things started to go south for Marie and Louis at the end of the film, I'm afraid I couldn't manage it.

It's almost irrelevant to talk about performances in a movie as queerly stylized as this one. Kirsten Dunst isn't the least bit believable as the queen of France, but I don't get the impression she was meant to be. One of Coppola's themes is that these were just young kids, far too inexperienced to be monarchs and completely unsuited to the task. Likewise, Dunst and Jason Schwartzman don't belong in the roles of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. I get the point, but so what? The film is better as a curiosity than as entertainment.

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originally posted: 10/20/06 14:26:30
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User Comments

5/21/14 Joe Smaltz Dreary, drab, boreing, tedious, a poor girl in an arranged marrige with a gay guy.. 1 stars
3/07/11 brian It's like the Moulin Rouge redux without the humor. Unconventionality is not enough. 3 stars
6/12/10 art a geat big COSTUME PARTY! 1 stars
3/17/09 :/ bleh not that good. 2 stars
1/08/09 Mariah disappointing, i thought it was going to be way better. but kirsten dunst did a great job. 2 stars
9/26/08 Annie G Amazing costumes, but I couldn’t figure out why else anyone would watch! 2 stars
5/29/08 Matt Inappropriate music and a story which suddenly ends when in truth it is far from over. 3 stars
5/16/08 Karrie Millheim Good protrayl of Marie Antoinette, the only problem was the ending was stupid 4 stars
5/09/08 doug great movie, bad ending. left me with tons of questions 4 stars
4/02/08 superfriek OMG, this movie rocks 4 stars
6/11/07 kiara best movie sooooo good and the costumes and food look sooooo good 5 stars
5/22/07 Corky like spending two hours eating dry white bread 1 stars
5/09/07 David Pollastrini Kirsten Dunst is hot in this! 3 stars
4/24/07 fools♫gold Too OLD to reign; Sofia Coppola's Great Work twice accomplished. 5 stars
4/22/07 djacosta Embarassing piece of shit 1 stars
3/31/07 chris. hey look! they partied just like we party! 3 stars
2/28/07 Beau Good portrayal and cast! great directing from 'copola' and performance from 'kirsten dunst' 3 stars
1/24/07 Antoinette Forbes I think this Movie was very said 5 stars
1/12/07 Richard Brandt The most interesting part was Louis' ruinous investment in a foreign war... 3 stars
1/03/07 jazzman Poor try on remaking a modern Amadeus...What an ending!!! 1 stars
12/13/06 jdean62 Acting was great ...but it put me to sleep !!! I was disappointed... 3 stars
12/12/06 William Goss Looks great, but any novelty wears off within an hour, with dry costume drama persisting. 3 stars
11/11/06 Louise A sumptuous feast for the eyes, tinged with the frustration felt by the young queen. 4 stars
11/06/06 Aaron tranquilizing take on most exttravagant period in history 1 stars
10/31/06 justine not a hip adaptation as it's peddled to be but a tragic bore. 1 stars
10/31/06 mac its was great love it ! it could have been better 4 stars
10/29/06 anni it sux 1 stars
10/27/06 ken Glittering, gaudy, profoundly feminine, rather gayish, frevolous and completely pointless ! 2 stars
10/25/06 Misha Definitely not a history lesson, visually stunning, conveys period excesses very well 4 stars
10/23/06 Stacy Like L.I.T., this would be better if it utilized some sort of narrorator. I liked it, tho'. 3 stars
10/23/06 Lauren Different and bold, and for this alone it is difficult film to dismiss. Worth seeing. 4 stars
10/22/06 Riki As meandering as Lost in Translation, if you like that sort of thing 3 stars
10/21/06 Pritchett Sofia Coppola is as good a director as she is an actress. 1 stars
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  20-Oct-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Feb-2007



Directed by
  Sofia Coppola

Written by
  Sofia Coppola

  Kirsten Dunst
  Jason Schwartzman
  Judy Davis
  Rip Torn
  Rose Byrne
  Asia Argento

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