11 February 2007
We saw Sophia Coppola's Marie Antionette last night. Lavish costume design, sumptuous scene composition, thoughtful cinematography, even delicious-looking cakey things (let them eat...). There is a beautiful shot taken at ground level of the women walking from behind, their skirts being buffetted by long grass. But the story was naff. There are constraints when telling a 'true' story but this film's favouring of style over substance is to blame for its limp portrayal of Marie A.
A coupla weeks ago D___ and I saw a doco on Marie Antionette that was more compelling and produced more drama that this shallow offering did with all its big-budget mise-en-scene (Sophia's Dad is exec producer). The screenplay was crap and the characters were flat. Coppola perpetuates the construction of Marie A as a vacuous party girl who never truly develops beyond a sort of C18 Paris Hilton wannabe. Then suddenly we were obliged to feel sorry for her when she was arrested during the French revolution. Is it adding value to depict her as obsessed with shoes and cake and all the while oblivious to the diminished lives of her subject. As D___ rightly pointed out, it would have been useful to juxtapose the palace opulence that dominated every scene with the abject poverty of life beyond the palace walls. And perhaps to develop a bit of self-awareness in Marie A during the course of the film to encourage us to identify with her...or give a toss whether she got the axe or not.
I thought Aussie Rose Byrne did a good job though.
I didn't mind the inclusion of modern music (esp. Siouxie and the Banshee's "Hong Kong Garden" during a ball scene), but Bow Wow Wow's "Fools Rush In" felt clunky and out-of-place.
A yawn. 1.5 stars.