Saturday, November 10, 2007

Marie Antoinette

Nobody seems to know exactly why they booed this movie at Cannes.

Perhaps it was because Sophia Coppola appears to have deliberately overlaid the values of the Ancien Régime with those of the modern Hollywood dream, and thus appears to be both trivialising and celebrating something that one assumes many historically conscious French people place beyond this kind of absolution. (American presumptiousness et tout ca.)

This, coupled with the fact that we never get to see the full consequences of the Queen's story, robs the whole thing of political least of the conventional sort, because Coppola may be trying to make another kind of political statement here, one where 'the mob' are but a hindrance.

Yet I for one remained uncertain of the intended message. The most enjoyable part of the film for me was the opening half hour, where the 14-year-old Dauphine-to-be makes her 'transition' through a temporary marquee erected on the border between Bourbon and Habsburg territories and where she is ritually decontaminated of her Austrian life. This is followed by equally well-observed scenes of the kind of court etiquette that is usually referred to as stifling.

Thereafter interest is maintained primarily by the costumes, wallpaper and bed linen as the young Queen explores the existential possibilities of the modern celebrity blonde, dabbling with self-indulgence (gambling, shoes and cake), nature, motherhood and dashing young foreigners before a final, unconvincing stab at stoic spouse.

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