Review: Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” (2006)

Right off the bat, I’m just going to say: I loved this film. It was pretty.

If you want to watch a historical documentary about Marie Antoinette and the fall of Versailles, do not turn to this film. If you want a film that portrays an indulgent lifestyle you know you secretly always wanted to experience while wrapped in the trappings of baroque France, which touches on many basic emotions, realisations of desires, dreams, and fears, then you’ve come to the right place. “Marie Antoinette”‘s excellent balance of slice-of-life and escapism makes it the perfect quiet-night-in/Girls’ Night movie. So put on your slippers, pop open a bottle of champagne, and bring on the bon-bons!

I’m sure I read a review somewhere that called this film “eye candy,” or a “feast for the eyes.” This film is a veritable feast of eye candy. Gilt in gold, adorned with feathers and flowers, brocade and jewels, dripping with champagne and dotted with macarons, visually the film satisfied my desire to look at beautiful things.  The soundtrack gently oscillated between baroque opera and chamber music, and 80s rock. To me, nothing felt awkward or out of place, despite how anachronistic it was.

In fact, the inclusion of the pop music made the film more accessible, more relatable. I am pretty sure that the film was particularly aimed at my demographic: 20,30-something women. Instead of focusing on the historical aspect of Marie Antoinette’s story, it focuses on her as just being a young woman, going through the trials of life. That’s really all I ask for in a film. Some moments to make me feel good, some moments to make me sad. Obviously this film didn’t have a happy ending, but of course we all know that going in…

The film was rife with little things, little details that I enjoyed. I actually really enjoyed the smattering of accents: when you’re not trying for historical accuracy, you can use accents to give a lot of colour to your characters. The Dauphin had a nerdy American college-boy accent, the Comtess de Noailles had a prim-and-proper British accent (she was the one explaining Versailles conduct and ceremony to Marie), and the Duchesse de Polignac, Marie’s best friend, had a gossipy London socialite’s accent. I loved that Marie’s daughter spoke with a French accent, which was so ridiculous given the way the parents and people around her spoke, but so absolutely adorable! Perfectly framed shots drew the eye, and little moments where Kirsten Dunst was simply being Marie, without saying a word, were all simply lovely.

My favourite scene was Marie’s birthday party, where she and her friends decide to stay up to watch the sun rise over Versailles. Seriously, who has not, while deliciously tipsy, stayed out partying all night to watch the sun come up? It was such a normal scene to me. With the exception of them being dressed in fantastic baroque dresses and wigs. Traipsing about the flower-filled fields at dawn with a bottle of champagne, skirts rustling… sigh… I wanted to be there with them!

This film was light and soothing. I know it ended with the riots, but honestly,  the rest of the film left a stronger impression on me, so I would ultimately call it a feel-good film. And you’ll feel even better accompanying it with wine and cake!

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