Marie Antoinette

Having very much enjoyed The Virgin Suicides and loved Lost In Translation, I tried to ignore the negative buzz around Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. It may have been booed in Cannes, but it wasn’t too hard to believe that those reports were overplayed and that some of the response had come from French critics who shared their nation’s resentment towards that most controversial of queens.

The film’s scenes are as luscious as was to be expected, the choice and use of music impeccable, the performances are strong, and the timing gives a good sense of the emotional ups and downs we are led to believe Marie Antoinette was experiencing as she negotiated life in the last days of the French court. But overall, it felt like a film of ‘moments’. There are many good pieces but they didn’t come together to form a compelling movie.

A.O. Scott’s review in the New York Times is one of the better ones out there. Where too many reviews focus on the reception at Cannes, or choose between the style or substance of the film, his review covers both and makes me want even more to have liked the whole. Certainly the film is an interesting exercise in empathy, a great portrait of Versailles (that made me want to revisit the palace’s grounds), and possibly a clever work of social criticism.

I just wish it had lived up to its trailer.

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