Monday, May 8, 2017

Movie Monday: Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

Film Title: Marie Antoinette

Book Title: Marie Antoinette
Release Year: 2006

Summary: Supposedly based on Antonia Fraser's extensive biography of Marie Antoinette, this movie views the story through a lush lens.

What I Thought: I had seen this movie before, somewhere back around when it came out. I remembered liking it and that it fell in line with the assumptions I held then about the young queen: she was flirtatious and flighty. Reading Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette, however, challenged a lot of those ideas. Since the movie is supposed to be base on the biography, I decided to give it a re-watch.

First off, I had completely forgotten what an incredible cast this movie has. I'm not usually a big Kirsten Dunst fan, but she really does a lovely job in this movie. She handles the part well, although I do think some of her acting choices contribute to the image of Marie Antoinette as naive and flighty. Mostly, though, I think she's doing justice to the script given her. I was also especially excited to see Rose Byrne and Molly Shannon, both of whom I have seen in other things and forgotten their presence here. 

The production scale and cinematography are absolutely to die for. The film is beyond gorgeous. It really gives you a sense of the grandeur of Versailles and the luxury in which the French royals lived. It does not give an accurate sense of how crowded and dirty Versailles was supposed to have been. 

Speaking of historical accuracy, that's where my issue with the film arises. You really cannot say that Sophia Coppola veered too drastically from Fraser's biography. The details are there. However, what I loved about Fraser's book was the gravity she brought to Marie Antoinette's story. I had not previously realized how involved the queen was in politics or how sharp she was in ways. The book gave me a newfound respect for the historical figure. The movie reinforced nearly all of the more popular ideas of the queen. While we as the viewer do see the world from Marie Antoinette's eyes, there are few moments where we really get a glimpse of what the woman must have been feeling. Much of the story telling is done without words, a tactic I actually really liked, especially since we cannot know for certain much of what the historical figures said. Dunst has some fantastic moments of expressing herself without a single line. Still, I wanted more of that depth and fewer shots of Marie Antoinette shopping or gambling. 

The modern soundtrack was definitely an interesting choice. There are moments when I went back and forth as to whether I liked it, but, ultimately, I think I do. It adds an element to the movie which makes Marie Antoinette's experiences more relatable to the modern viewer. I think it's a fun twist for a historical film, especially since everything seems so on point visually.

I like this movie. I really do. But I like it as just that: a film. I don't think it does justice to the complex woman who it portrays. For that, you need to go back to the source material. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Watch: Yeah, maybe. It's a fun movie

A Reduced Review: Though it doesn't hold the same serious tone as Fraser's biography or the famous queen's life, it is a delightfully fun film. 

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