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Marie Antoinette
Three out of Five Stars
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon, Steve Coogan
Released by: Columbia Pictures

In Short: Sofia Coppola's vanity piece about the doomed French queen is a study of personal excess, told without an iota of passion or historical perspective.

Off With Her Head, Please!
Who Would Care to Save This Queen?
by Jenny Peters

After about an hour of watching Kirsten Dunst in the title role of Sofia Coppola's deathly boring and misguided film “Marie Antoinette,” a bad feeling comes over you. You may look forward to the merciful moment when the French queen is placed on the guillotine and put to death by the starving peasants, and hope begins to form that then, at least, this plodding vanity piece will finally be over, putting you out of your misery.

But alas, that is not the case. It goes on and on, two solid hours of the most mind-numbingly dull filmmaking that has come along in years. Yes, it is beautiful to look at, with the bulk of the film actually shot at Versailles, where Marie arrived as the 14-year-old Austrian bride of the Dauphin (Jason Schwartzman), ascended to the throne along with him at age 19, and lived until her death at the hands of the revolutionaries at 37. The set decoration is sumptuous; the famous gardens of the palace beautiful.

The clothes are pretty, too, and hairstyles appropriately wacky as befit the time, but those superficial elements of the turbulent era are the only parts of the film that actually evoke the era. Coppola's attempt to make a biographical film about a woman who was apparently not as brainless and self-indulgent as history has painted her is to present her as just that, with endless scenes of her shopping, gorging on pastries and Champagne, and having her hair done.

Dunst's performance is just as superficial, right down to an embarrassing scene in which she's supposed to be crying uncontrollably, yet the actress couldn't seem to squeeze out a single tear. Schwartzman (Coppola's real-life cousin) is equally out of his depth as Louis XVI; and Jamie Dornan, the Dior model-turned-actor who plays Marie's secret lover, is wooden, unconvincing and painful to watch.

It is only the veteran (and actually gifted) thespians Rip Torn and Judy Davis, as Louis XV and Countess de Noailles, who give believable performances. Everyone else seems to have agreed that this self-indulgent vanity piece was the perfect opportunity to spend a few months hanging out and partying while the cameras rolled, without a bit of concern for creating a believable or interesting portrayal of the time, or of the people who so famously lived—and died—as France overthrew its monarchy.

Capping off this turgid mess is the ultimate cop-out, for after slogging through to the very end, we never actually get the satisfaction of seeing Marie or Louis face their unfortunate fate. So unless the idea of watching Kirsten Dunst eating cake and lolling around in flouncy dresses is of deep interest to you, “Marie Antoinette” is one movie to avoid like the plague.



P101806 (Updated 01/31/08 NJ)

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