Saturday, September 30, 2006

MovieWatch: "Marie Antoinette"

"Marie Antoinette"
Director: Sofia Coppola
Fien Print Rating: 69
In a Nutshell: Is Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" a superficial movie about a superficial woman? Or is it a flawed, but fascinating movie that uses the language of superficiality to explore an interesting historical figure who has been accused -- correctly it seems -- of being superficial. Does that make sense? What I'm sayin' is that either Coppola has perfectly captured the rituals, costumes and decorations of the 18th century French court and called it a day or else she uses the luscious gowns, the ornate food preparations and the ridiculous formality to comment on undeserved and unexpected celebrity in some semi-profound and certainly poetic way. Expect plenty of reviews calling "Marie Antoinette" something like "Paris Hilton: Queen of France" and mean it almost as a compliment. Expect plenty more to call it "Kirsten Dunst Plays Dress-Up For Two Hours," which would also probably be correct. Dunst is perfect as the giggling, silly young Antoinette who arrives in the French court as a teen entirely unprepared for the responsibilities and duties of her new position. She's delightful as she learns relearns how to eat breakfast, get dressed in the morning and choose her friends. Much of the movie is pitched towards a comedy of manners tone that's likely to either be missed by detractors or misinterpreted as unintentional. But since nobody casts Molly Shannon as a bitchy noble or Asia Argento as a French slut with a straight face, that would be foolish. Where Dunst and Coppola and the movie are less confident is when things are supposed to get darker and we're supposed to see how Marie's self-indulgence and waste led to her eventual fate (a fate that's never mentioned even in titles at the end of the movie). Coppola, using many of the New Wave-y visual tricks that she worked out in "Virgin Suicides" and "Lost in Translation," definitely lets us know why we should be amused by Marie and her life, but never conveys why we should care, much less why the people of France cared enough to first love her and ultimately wish her dead. Is that actually Coppola's point? Is it a condemnation of any culture that would raise a no-talent like Hilton or Jessica Simpson to a position of glory and then would see any purpose at all in attempting to tear them down? Heck is it a parable about Coppola herself, an undeniably gifted but somewhat simplistic young woman raised to Oscar-winning royalty before her time? I wish I understood.


  1. Anonymous5:32 PM

    Just when I thought I could cut back to checking your page once a week, you post twice. Sigh.


  2. Anonymous10:23 AM

    What twice a week? He wrote on the 20th and then on the 30th. When did 10 days become twice a week?

    Not that there's anything wrong with the frequency of the posts.

  3. Yeah yeah. I've been a bad poster lately, haven't I? I've been posting tons on the new Zap2it blog...

    Once I get into a full-on routine with that blog, maybe I can balance the two?


  4. Anonymous6:07 AM

    Silly me. I blame technology (my Internet service was working for only 20 minutes over a period of 36 hours, so I was rushing).

    I do check the Zap2It page M-F, so I'm getting my Fien fix. The comment was really pondering whether this page was hibernating.


  5. Anonymous1:16 PM

    personally, i tend to think that Fienberg is just over-worked and under-paid. or at least he plays at that.

    just joshing ya. he's a hard worker, our Dan.

  6. Shit Dan. I guess both Sofia and Scarlett have been letting us down.

    It's time for them to reunite and kick ass.

    Well, I'll see what I think of the film.