Monday, November 27, 2006
I'm late to the party to praise Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, but as with life at Versailles, more is more. Expectations were high after Lost In Translation, but Coppola's talent for realizing places and moods, sensations and sensibilities, certainly translated from Tokyo jetlag to Versailles excess. The film presents a vivid portrait of a woman more complicated than the standard charicature of her, set against the rich visualization of the intricacies and intrigues of Bourbon court social life, and the sartorial and culinary extravagances of the time. Kirsten Dunst is outstanding as the intimidated young pricess who transforms into a remarkable and confident woman, and Jason Schwartzman carries off the hesitant and ill-at-ease Louis XVI perfectly. The Marie Antionette we get to know through this film is much more interesting and sympathetic than her infamous "let them eat cake" reputation, and more accurate (according to historical biographer Lady Antonia Fraser, whose novel provided the source for the film). And the film is a visual feast, with much of it having been shot on location at Versailles, with royal reams of couture and cuisine. (The Devil Wears Prada now has serious competition for the Best Costume Oscar.) The soundtrack, an eclectic mix of baroque opera with modern rock, complimented the film perfectly, providing a decadent texture as well as a good listen.