Marie Antoinette (2006)
Dir. Sofia Coppola
PG13 / 2h 3m / Biography, Drama
Academy Award Winner (2007) – Best Achievement in Costume Design
Let them eat cake.
This insane adaptation and over dramatization of the biography of France’s last queen is my #2 favorite film of all time.
In 2006, I was 14 and I was about to transition from private to public schooling and I spent the whole summer by myself doing sit ups and playing Kingdom Hearts 2 and watching my parents’ collection of R rated films while they were at work. Eventually I made it to this film – it isn’t rated R but I had no reason to be interested in it – the only Kirsten Dunst I knew was the child version in Interview with a Vampire (1994) I had watched for the first time the week before. And of course my private schooling didn’t waste time on the French Revolution. I didn’t know that I was starting something that would stay with me for the next 11 years and probably the rest of my life.
A most peculiar and extravagant coming of age story, this one. Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna of Austria is shoved into an arranged marriage with young Louis XVI at only 14 years of age. We see her life unfold as Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France and, in time, Queen of France and Navarre. We see her succumb to riches and bad decisions. We watch her beautiful surroundings build up around her so high until they begin crumbling. Her end is not included in this film, no, we are given her life to fall in love with rather than her death.
There is absolutely nothing subtle about Marie Antoinette. The costumes, the locations, the food, the desserts, the culture, the parties, the wigs, the fucking WALLPAPER is outrageous. Everything is just so lush. It’s all gorgeous. This film is a feast for your eyes. The music, too is so interesting – it mixes with traditional piano work and contemporary indie tracks. I loved it so much I bought the soundtrack on iTunes after I got my first job two years later. This is not a popular move with many viewers even today – but I am all about mixing modern with antique (THE ONE reason why The Great Gatsby (2013) worked so well for me). I still listen to it when I’m cleaning my house.
The dialogue is sometimes amiss, but everything listed above allows you to forget about it. Film is visual. The plot took some creative liberty in unfolding but I’m not mad about it. Dunst gave us a precious and sassy and sneaky and lofty and ambitious Marie while Schwartzman provided a counterpart for her in Louis XVI that was nowhere near as impressive, but still precious. I found him lovely, a man of simple likes and an unbearable royal responsibility, awkward and learning. The two didn’t have much romantic chemistry but they worked as a royal couple where that just isn’t usually present.
I’ve watched Marie Antoinette 100 times and I still get butterflies when I see her in that wedding dress, I still drool in the I Want Candy scene, I still gasp when she undresses for Fersen, I still swoon when Louis XVI gives her the retreat. This film is two hours of pure luxuriousness and it is exciting every single time.
10/10 – Those 20 pound wigs would probably have broken your neck if you went on any longer anyway, Marie.