tek's rating: ½

Marie Antoinette (PG-13)
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This came out in 2006, but I didn't see it until 2013. On Bastille Day. I suppose I should say I've never had more than a vague idea of who Marie Antoinette was, or much of anything about the French Revolution. But of course, this movie starts before that. In 1768, young Marie is sent from Austria to France, to marry the young dauphin, Louis Auguste. Thus Marie became the dauphine of France, and cemented an alliance between France and Austria. However, she would of course be required to produce a male heir, and Louis seemed extremely reluctant to consummate the marriage. And everyone blamed Marie for that, though she was obviously trying- even if not at all aggressively. So I felt bad for her because of that, as well as for her having to conform to lots of customs of court which seemed ridiculous to her (and to anyone watching the movie, no doubt). Anyway, Louis seemed like an okay guy, I just wish the movie would have maybe made it a bit clearer why he didn't try. Mainly it seemed to me it was just performance anxiety, but it could have been something more than that. I dunno. (I may have missed something, or come to think of it, may have heard a line and not realized people were talking about him. Which maybe they were and maybe they weren't. Whatever.)

I should also say that the movie is chiefly known for having a somewhat modern take on the historical era it portrays, mostly in its use of modern music. In this respect I found it a bit uneven; I expected it actually to be more anachronistic than it was. It seemed to me that for most of the first half of the film, such modern touches were used only infrequently. Then for awhile in the middle, it was very heavy on the modern music. Then for most of the latter half, the modernity once again became less frequent. I do think that it all worked fairly well, though, and the inconsistency of the gimmick- if I'm right in finding it inconsistent- is perhaps appropriate to the overall tone of the story, at each particular time. (The modern music mostly seemed to coincide with Marie partying and enjoying life; most of the time she was justifiably unhappy, and at those times, the movie mostly seemed much more like a typical period piece.)

Um... so, let's see. The king of France was Louis's grandfather, who had a mistress named du Barry. She was the focus of much gossip and disapproval from everyone, including Marie. But then nothing really came of all that. And eventually, the king dies, so the dauphin and dauphine become the new king and queen. Louis has to spend a lot of time trying to rule his country, with help from his advisors, who encourage him to provide aid to America in its Revolution. This of course strains France's finances, but apparently not as much as Marie's extravagant lifestyle. For a time, I was happy that she started living so decadently, as it seemed to me that she deserved some perks as dauphine, and then queen, considering all the unfair scorn she suffered (including from her own mother) for her apparent inability to get her husband interested in her sexually (in spite of everyone agreeing that she was beautiful). Though she did have a few close friends, whose names I never managed to learn. But they had fun together. And eventually Marie did have kids. Unfortunately, her constant spending, combined with her husband's support of the war in America (which apparently was meant to piss off England more than to actually help the Americans), led to the lower classes in France becoming poorer. And this, in turn, led to the French Revolution, at the end of the movie.

I must say, there were things I liked about the movie... like members of the court eventually starting to go along with Marie's more natural way of doing things, but later in the movie once again rebuking her ways. It seemed neatly symbolic. And it was sort of tragic, later still, to watch the king and queen adhering to "ridiculous" customs that were now made hollow by their change in fortunes. Aside from all the serious stuff, I also liked the music, and the costumes, and of course Marie and her friends- and du Barry- were all easy on the eyes. And, um... I may be forgetting things I wanted to say, as well as leaving out some bits of the plot intentionally. But I did think it was a decent movie, with decent acting, especially from Kirsten Dunst as Marie. But in spite of all that, it's not something I expect to feel the need to ever watch again. I'm glad to have seen it once, though.

Oh, and incidentally, Marie Antoinette never actually said, "Let them eat cake," which is probably what she's most famous for among people who don't know much about history. I did like her denying that quote among her friends, when the press was first beginning to vilify her. Though I can't help wondering if she'd made an effort to clear her name, if history would have turned out any differently....


based on a true story