Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette Review: Extravagantly Boring
by Alex Billington
October 23, 2006
Sofia Coppola's third film, Marie Antoinette, is a period piece telling the young story of Queen Marie Antoinette in late 18th century France. Coppola captures the extravagance of the era perfectly, but she fails to create a satisfying mix of urbanization and '80s eclecticism. With only gratifying performances from Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst, there is not much more enjoyment offered in the rather lengthy and boring film that moves at a dully slow rate. Marie Antoinette was a formidable third attempt at filmmaking from Coppola, but it isn't a masterpiece by far.
The story of Marie Antoinette concerns the arranged marriage of the 14-year-old titular character (Dunst) of Austria to Prince Louis XVI (Schwartzman) of France to achieve peace between the two nations. After marrying, the French expected Louis and Marie Antoinette to produce an heir to the throne, but as the story unfolds we learn that Louis is not interested in sex, nor could Marie Antoinette seduce him enough to get interested. Louis XVI is a young man who is caught up in his own snobby life with more interest in hunting wild game than women. Queen Marie Antoinette doesn't fit in with the high-class lifestyle that the French royalty follows; she only wants to go to masquerade parties and sleep in each morning. Marie Antoinette tells the often comical and slightly entertaining story of these two together until the queen's eventual beheading.
Marie Antoinette is a slow-moving, often boring film with spots of pointed humor. Coppola does a great job of capturing the immense extravagance of the costumes and ornate life that the French royalty lived in at the time. Every scene is full of colorful, luscious and elaborate costumes all set in the background of the beautiful Palace of Versailles. On the other hand, Coppola's off-kilter attempt at modernization was so underdone that it didn't add much to the experience. Coppola has taken the story of Queen Marie Antoinette from history and transformed it with a more modern and upbeat style, adding more contemporary connections to today's society, a soundtrack of select romantic pop songs from the 1980s, and many more subtle details. The strongest of those additions was the soundtrack, but the modernization that Coppola, or at least Sony's marketing team, intended was sparse and detracting from the complete experience.
Jason Schwartzman delivers one of the only glowing performances alongside a serviceable lead from Kirsten Dunst. Even Molly Shannon, who I've often previously found hilarious on "Saturday Night Live," is a boring sight with barely one line garnering a snicker. Beyond that, no further acting stood out, and nothing more could bring any more appreciation to the movie. There are a few moments where the Dunst's character's emotion and quirky nature can be found, and these are some of the most enjoyable moments. When those disappear, so does the audience's attention, and before long all hope is lost.
Although a formidable attempt, Coppola fails to achieve the same excellence found in her previous film, Lost in Translation. Marie Antoinette is extravagantly boring and hardly entertaining. The director's attempt at modernization and inclusion of 1980s pop music begins to make an interesting impact, but peters out much too soon. Schwartzman is subtle and fantastic and Dunst is also notable, but beyond those few good performances, there is not much Marie Antoinette can offer. This film is an unfortunate downward step for Sofia Coppola's career.
Reader Feedback - 4 Comments
It was tedious. Beyond the lush costumes, absolutely boring indeed. Dunst lead had no weight. It seemed her only intention and complete focus was to come off cute, charming and erotically alluring. Sickeningly so. Very phoney performances. Full of clichees and one dimensional notes. Character is sweet so she cries over cute puppy, movie wants to be charmingly provocative and sexy so focuses on the dress protocal or the undress protocal in order to have sly glimpses of semi nudity, character is caring so she clasps and unclasps attractive, well clad children to her bosom a few times and sheds some tears and has that fixed and pathetic expression of phoney melancholia aiming at garnering sympathy stuck on her face. Not about history? Don't use a historical figure. History of feelings? More like phoney, clicheed feelings to come off as cute and kittenish. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Blech!! I needed to cleanse my palate afterwards.
helen on Oct 23, 2006
too bad your are not smart enough to get Marie Antoinette.
richard crawford on Oct 30, 2006
i don't know why people don't like this movie. i loved every bits of it. the soundtrack confuse me a little. i love the strokes and everything but it was really weird hearing it in that kind of movie. that's the only negative thing i have to say about marie antoinette. it's not perfect but i love it.
jessica on Mar 2, 2007
im not a huge spiderman fan and know nothing about it, but malkovich as any vilian would be pretty awesome..to me...ra ra rarara
Rick on Dec 10, 2009
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