|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in
Directed by Sofia Coppola, USA
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
One of the more intriguing entries at this year's festival, Sofia Coppola's
third feature, MARIE ANTOINETTE, appears to inspire either rapture or
hatred in audiences -- not unlike the film's much-maligned subject.
Coppola has used Lady Antonia Fraser's recent acclaimed biography
as the source material for her film and she has approached the material in
what has become her signature style -- dreamy and ethereal yet with an
undercurrent of strength and charm. Say whatever you want about the
filmmaker's approach -- it is not shallow or superficial as some have felt.
Coppola has a vision and has managed to realize it on screen in a visually
sumptuous production. Her take on the story is to concentrate on the lead
character's youth -- Marie Antoinette was only 13 when she was basically
sold into an arranged marriage with the 15 year old French Dauphin.
A teenager, she is let loose among a society that thrives on gossip and
appearance and she's immediately suspect given that she is a foreigner.
Plus, every aspect of her life, from getting dressed in the morning to eating
dinner to sleeping with her husband is subject to public view. Everyone at
court knows everyone's business and despite some efforts, Marie Antoinette
(nicely portrayed by Kirsten Dunst) doesn't ever fit in.
With location shoots at Versailles, MARIE ANTOINETTE is one of
the most beautiful films to appear in 2006. The exquisite costumes designed
by Oscar winner Milena Canonero, the cinematography of Lance Acord and
the production design of KK Barrett all deserve special mention.
Coppola has put together an eclectic cast that includes Danny Huston,
Marianne Faithful, Jason Schwartzman, Asia Argento and Rip Torn, all of whom
offer nice work.
The film met with a bad reception at Cannes but that should not deter
anyone from seeking out this unique and fascinating film. Coppola successfully
has made a period film that doesn't feel like a museum piece.
Rating: B +
Running time: 123 mins.