Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Kirsten Dunst, Rip Torn, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rose Byrne, Steven Coogan

"Let them eat cake"

Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

Let them eat cake!

I am still at odds on whether I like this film or not. That's why I've been having a difficult time coming up with a review.

On the one hand, it is a visually pleasing movie to watch. Quite bright and it has this little airy feel to it with all those 80s music, those colorful costumes and great shots of Versailles in all its gaudy glamour. It was very detail oriented from the way the meals were presented on the table, a feast fit for royalty to the ornately furnished rooms of the palace as well as the manicured lush lawns of the gardens of Versailles. I have been to Versailles several times in my lifetime, I have always wondered how it would feel to live during that auspiciously opulent era. All those balls and merry making, endless revelry with beautiful gowns in those halls with grand paintings, high chandeliers and classical music permeating throughout the Palace. Ok I will stop daydreaming now ... back to the film. I also like the 'fashion show' style of displaying the young Queen's wardrobe - her numerous dainty shoes, her brocade gowns and her elaborate coiffure (hairstyle) - complete with rock music to appeal to the younger audience.

But then the thing is for me, it seemed like Sofia Coppola read Lady Antonia Fraser's book then decided to go on a field trip. Telling herself 'well since I'm going to be in France after all, why don't I grab my video camcorder, round up some of my friends who just happen to be actors/actresses, dress them up in period costumes, head out to Versailles and act out the book?. You stand here ... You there ... Ok action!' Voila a home made video, add a few songs here and there giving it a MTV feel then sell it to some film studio and let them market it at film festivals and selected cinema theaters.

I don't know if it is the amateurish feel or the fact that the story line is rather limited which makes me not appreciate the nature of this film. I guess in some ways, it is unique and presents us with a different side to Marie Antoinette's personality. The fact that she was a foreigner who felt like an outsider, got married to an indifferently boring husband at a very young age. Then she was under constant pressure and strain to consummate the marriage in the hopes of producing a male heir to the throne. So in her infinite boredom she indulged in lavish luxuries and couldn't care less about the starving French populace. She was very isolated in her little world of pomp and pageantry that she really didn't know any better. If anything, this film sort of justifies her opulent indulgences and certainly puts her in a much better light than someone who was conniving and callous enough to utter "Let them eat cake" as a response to the clamor of the hungry masses. So I was a bit disappointed by how confining and claustrophobic I felt watching the entire movie but then I really didn't expect much from Sofia Coppola's revisionist narrative about a much maligned and (apparently) misunderstood young Queen. Besides, I never liked Kirsten Dunst and this film just further put me off her acting all the more. Ugh!

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