Farewell, My Queen

         
 

09 July 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

How do you #$&% up a movie about Marie Antoinette? The turgid Farewell, My Queen (in English and French dialogue with English subtitles) makes one simple, costly error: The entire film is through the point of view (POV) of a completely unremarkable character, the reader and sometimes handmaid Sidonie (Léa Seydoux). Diane Kruger is excellent as Marie Antoinette, if only the director would just let her play her part. Director Benoit Jacquot begins his film with uneventful and unenlightening drama, and from there the forewarning of the peoples’ revolt in the last days is dramatized. The film is shot mostly in suffocating close-ups.

The whole film emits an aura of putrid air, as if to suggest that nothing was sanitary in Versailles (where it was filmed), and that the common gutter rat had as comfortable a time of living there as the humans. That’s what Jacquot thinks, anyways. Repetitively, Sidonie observes the mad panic of the royals hearing how they are on the list of the peoples’ wanted executions. She is occasionally called into Antoinette’s private quarters (Antoinette is always by the fireplace, brooding). The only tantalizing piece of information of the film is the assertion that the Queen had a lesbian lover named Gabrielle (Virginie Ledoyen).

Which leads me to wonder that, if the film is not going to be in Marie Antoinette’s POV, why didn’t they put the story at least under Gabrielle’s POV? Gabrielle, whom we never really get to know, at least as the lesbian lover had far more fascinating promise than sticking with the dishrag for a personality Sidonie. Then dispassionately, the film ends on an unremarkably humdrum note.

I think Sofia Coppola’s ravishing, revisionist 2006 “Marie Antoinette” just became a better film in my head by comparative default.

97 Minutes. Unrated. French in English subtitles.

FOREIGN FILM / HISTORICAL DRAMA / WINTER TALE

Film Cousins: “Marie Antoinette” (1938); “Marie Antoinette” (2006); “The Duchess” (2008); “The Princess of Montpensier” (2011).

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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