Sunday, 23 September 2012

Review: Marie Antoinette (2006 Film)

That's right, I'm reviewing a film today! I watched it a couple of months back on TV, from start to finish, and then it was on again last night. I missed half of it but watched it again until about a quarter of the way to the end. Okay, that was a pretty confusing description...I started watching it just where she has been married to the Dauphin and he won't consumate the marriage, and stopped just after she had her first child and started being more carefree and chilling out. 

Anyway, onto the review! This film stars Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, Rip Torn (Dodgeball) as Louis XV and Steve Coogan as Ambassador Mercy. I won't really say that this film or review contains spoilers as it is based (albeit, loosely) on the real Marie Antoinette's life, which is fact, so it's not a big spoiler to hear she gets beheaded! Except she doesn't in the film. To be honest, there is very little plot to Marie Antoinette - it's definitely more style over substance. The imagery, however, is very sumptuous and luxurious - part of the reason I'm reviewing this is that many Lolita consider Marie Antoinette to be a bit Lolitary, or certainly inspires them a bit more in Lolita fashion because some styles of Lolita are inspired by the Rococo era of France, post-Revolution. Sofia Coppola, the director, had Spanish designer Manolo Blahnik create hundreds of Rococo style shoes for this film!

As well as Manolo Blahnik, Sofia Coppola wanted this film to be very rock n' roll style and directed towards teenage and young adult females. It uses New Wave style music from Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure and Adam and the Ants, to name buy a few. It does also use baroque music too but kind of in a comedic, satirical way.

Back onto the plot - as I said, there isn't much of it. It's loosely based on Marie-Antoinette's real life but plays mostly on her sumptuous lifestyle, buying lots of clothes, gambling, gossiping with her friends and trying to get her husband to pay attention to her. You don't really notice it when you watch it without researching first, but Kirsten/Marie is only 14-15 when she is married and becomes a Dauphine of France, and only 18-19 when she becomes Queen. After you learn that and watch it again, you can see that the film is mostly about Marie being so young and in power, not being able to fit in (being Austrian) and trying to make her own, private little world to slip into when court life is so stifling and strict. This is seen especially when Louis XV (Rip Torn) dies, making Louis XVI and Marie King and Queen of France. Marie and Louis give each other a frightened look, terrified of being in such power at such a young age.

The plot also tackles Marie and Louis XVI's frosty marriage - Louis is shy, awkward and more interested in his hobbies of lockmaking and hunting to pay attention to, or even consumate his marriage to Marie, which would solidify the bond between Austria and France and secure Marie's place as eventual Queen of France. Her mother is ridiculously over-bearing, constantly sending her letters about her disappointment and that she needs to "inspire the Dauphin". I can understand Marie's constant fear of her mother, always trying to impress her and her fear of the annulment of her marriage and being ostracised from both France and Austria. Because she's so young and doesn't have many friends, only just moving to France, she wants to keep her only connection to Austria and only friend and companion she is assured.

I'm not really sure what is supposed to go on in the film, plot-wise but after consulting IMDB and Wikipedia, she feels out of place in the Palace of Versailles, court life and struggles to fit in. After she arrives and doesn't fit in, she buys some clothes and parties with her few friends she makes. After she fails to inspire her husband to consummate the marriage, she gets depressed and buys some more clothes and gambles a bit. When her sister (or another woman, I'm not sure) falls pregnant before she does, she remedies this by buying even more clothes, shoes, pretty food, gambles some more and goes to parties. This film really is about her lifestyle, not politics, history or anything of the sort. Her lavish spending starts to irk the French population as they fall further and further into debt and the film ends with the Revolution starting and the royal family having to transfer to the Tuileries. I think the film is a bit long so it doesn't really feel like a good ending - I guess it is kind of sad that after their transferral to Tuileries, everything starts going downhill for the royal family and they all start getting executed. I guess they have no idea what will happen as they're being transferred and give each other a worried, yet consoling smile. 

I'm not really a big fan of Kirsten Dunst - she didn't fit the role of Mary-Jane in Spiderman but I think she was very well cast in Marie-Antoinette. She has a young, cute look about her and when you see her all dressed up with huge dresses and hair, she has a little woman feel about her. I like Steve Coogan as Ambassador Mercy too, even though he isn't a main character. He remains by Marie's side from her departure from Austria right up until their transferral to Tuileries. He's a good actor and plays the concerned yet good friend to Marie. The only thing is, all the accents are so varied! You have some smaller, minor characters that have French accents, Marie has an American one, Steve has a British one, etc.! They are all a mix of French, British and American so it's not very accurate. 

The imagery is very bright and rich, with tons of dresses, shoes and hairstyles being displayed throughout the movie. Sofia Coppola actually got permission to film in the Palace of Versailles too, so all the decor and furnishings are authentic and so lavish. Everything has quite subtle colours, such as ivory and pink but because of the sheer amount used and the patterns, it all looks very luxurious and decadent. Decadent is this films' middle name as, as well as the clothes, shoes, hair and decor that is shown, Marie has a fan of eating sweet things like chocolate, fruit and cakes so there are tons of brightly coloured cakes and pastries on show for parties, gatherings with her friends and the like. 

TL;DR: All in all, this is a really luxurious and lavish film, full of Gothy, New-Wave music, brightly coloured decor, clothing and sweets and is a trendy depiction of Marie Antoinette's decadent lifestyle full of gambling, buying clothes, eating sweets and generally spending money. Living the true Lolita lifestyle! However, it has little plot and there is no real political or historical tales in it. Instead, it depicts Marie's life as a young Dauphine, then Queen, trying to balance out court life with her luxurious lifestyle she has made to take her mind of things and trying to make friends. In fact, she starts an affair after going to a party as she is married to her husband purely for stability in Europe and her lover makes her feel happy. This is a great film to watch if you're a Lolita and would love to fantasise about having a rich, princess-like lifestyle but if you're looking for a historically accurate period drama, I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place. Try any period drama with Keira Knightley in, such as The Duchess!

Have you seen Marie Antoinette? Why did you choose to watch it? My reason was purely because it was supposed to be a rather Lolita-like film full of bright, luxurious imagery and it certaintly didn't disappoint. What did you think of it?

Also, my beauty giveaway has finished! It actually finished over a week ago, I completely forgot to say lol! I will be choosing a winner soon and will announce it on my blog so please watch out!

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