Time: 123 mins.
Won Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
SYNOPSIS: When betrothed to King Louis XVI, the naive and beautiful, Austrian-born Marie Antoinette enters the opulent French court, which is steeped in conspiracy and scandal. Without guidance, adrift in a dangerous world, the young girl rebels against the isolated atmosphere of Versailles and becomes France's most misunderstood monarch. Stripped of her riches and finery, imprisoned, and ultimately beheaded by her own subjects, the Queen of France became a toxic symbol for the wanton extravagance of the 18th century monarchy that incited to the French Revolution.
BOTTOM LINE: There's probably no woman more famous/infamous in all of history than Marie Antoinette. Many people, myself included, are fascinated by her life despite her apparent lack of compassion for her "people", which helped bring about her rather bloody end. It's no wonder why Coppola would want to bring her story to the screen, and yet it's sad that she chose to focus so much on the frivolity of her life. Certainly the life of a princess/queen is one many women might envy – the palace, the clothes, the food – but what many people fail to realize and the film touches on here and there, is that her life belonged to the state. She was a pawn in the european power struggle and was thrust into this political quagmire when she was a mere 14-year-old girl. Granted she came from a royal family and was raised to do what was expected of her, but it can't have been easy to leave home forever, adopt the ways of a foreign country and marry a man you had never met. Forget about love. Her biggest and only real job was to provide a male heir to the throne, something that's quite difficult when your husband chooses not to perform his duties. As the years go by without a pregnancy, her position became more and more tenuous leading her to escape into fashion, food and frivolity. She's disconnected from the rest of the world because she's never allowed to connect to it.
Dunst tries, and succeeds on some levels, to give Marie some intelligence and heart. To be constantly watched, primped and prodded by others is something I could not stand, even to live in a castle. It goes without saying that she'd want to burn off some steam and take control of whatever little corner of her existence was left to her. Unfortunately, too much time of the film is wasted showcasing these endeavors. She was the queen of France, a major power at the time. Clearly more was expected of her on a daily basis than was shown here. Was I entranced by all the finery, yes. However, I'm more familiar with Marie's life story than what I gather is the target audience of this film, so I could fill in the gaps. Coppola failed to create a character as compelling as her lifestyle. How was she different from any other royal personage? Well, she had her head cut off because she failed to feed her people. History lesson concluded. Coppola is such a talented filmmaker she could have gotten away with a more complex plot that allowed Dunst to do more than show off her dimples and to garner more sympathy when she reached her bitter end. She wasn't necessarily a bad person, she just didn't know any other way to behave. An historical tale that's mostly skin deep and that's a real shame.