“Marie Antoinette”: Coppola’s vision of queens-gone-wild

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Sofia Coppola’s film, “Marie Antoinette,” loosely follows the wild lifestyle of France’s most infamous queen of the ancient regime. The movie is made up of bursts of color, decidedly modern choices of music and language, and rather iffy dialogue. Coppola still manages to conjure her signature juxtapositions of people, music, and situation, as seen in her “Lost in Translation,” though her desire to create a new image for the beheaded monarch creates mixed results.

The film’s strength is undoubtedly in wardrobe: Kirsten Dunst, as the lead, tromps about in feathers, pastels, and loads of costume jewelry, making unlikely allusions to Rousseau and sleeping with personality-less Dutch soldiers. Once again, “Lost in Translation,” is recalled as she remains true to her pensive, carefully constructed style of creating a scene.

However, Coppola’s vision of Marie Antoinette is a disaster to fans of the traditional costume drama. This is not the sort of picture in which everyone speaks with a British accent and plays period instruments. Focusing primarily on her days at Versailles, the film paints a decidedly modern picture of the queen. Blonde, scandalous, wasteful, naive, and toting around a dog or two in the midst of her voluminous costumes, it becomes clear halfway through the film that Kirsten Dunst is *actually* portraying Paris Hilton. The catch being that while Paris inherited her father’s money, Marie is playing with the tax money of starving and decidedly unhappy Parisians.

Jason Schwartzmann is an effete and uncomfortable Louis XVI, who prefers playing with locks and mumbling to himself over attempting to romance his bewildered bride. For reasons beyond human comprehension, Rip Torn portrays Louis XV, Molly Shannon is Aunt Victoire, and Marianne Faithfull portrays Marie AntoinetteÕs mother. Ultimately, the film does entertain and may even (gasp) enlighten, though it would be best not to set the bar too high for this peculiar romp into MarieÕs life at Versailles. “Marie Antoinette” is now showing at the AMC Marple.

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