Sophia Coppola is only 35 years old and already she has made three great films – not a small feat by any stretch. Her third film, the unconventional telling of Marie Antoinette’s early years, is a candy-coated film about a na’ve girl placed under circumstances which yield her essentially powerless when, in fact, she has all the power in the world.
The film takes its time as it introduces us to Marie (Kirsten Dunst) as she’s being swept off from her Austria home to France at 15 to marry Louis XVI. At first, Marie is overwhelmed by the superficialities of her new lifestyle, but eventually learns to conform in order to properly assume her role as queen. From there, it’s all cake.and lots of it. At least until the French Revolution kicks in.
The film’s performances are all spot-on. Particularly Dunst, who captures the simplicity and childishness of her character in cleverly placed mannerisms and facial expressions. It would be an oversight if she doesn’t receive an Academy Award nomination.
It goes without saying that the costumes and sets were all magnificent as well. Coppola was given access to the real Versailles for the shoot, and the splendor of the place shows in every frame; the film is gorgeous to look at it.
Many critics were aghast at the soundtrack for the film, primarily made-up of 80s pop music. Interestingly enough, the music doesn’t really feel out of place in the context of Coppola’s film. This is not a historical account of Antoinette but rather a character study. And, in that sense, the music works.
The only problem Antoinette runs into is its length. It is simply too long at 123 minutes. A tighter cut, maybe 20 minutes shorter, would have rendered a nearly flawless film. Instead, we are left with a great one.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.