Marie Antoinette (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/10/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 123 mins

A deliberate case of style over substance, Sofia Coppola's third film brings a frequently innovative approach to the historical drama, but it doesn't quite work, despite some impressive moments.

What's it all about?
Kirsten Dunst stars as 14 year old Austrian princess Marie Antoinette, who is sent to France to marry teenaged dauphin Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) in 1768. At first, she finds her new situation bewildering, particularly as her husband seems more interested in tinkering with his oh so symbolic collection of locks and keys than providing an heir to the throne.

Eventually, Marie becomes accustomed to her new life and things pick up when, after seven years, Louis finally gets around to consummating the marriage. Meanwhile, she fills her days with parties, cakes and fancy clothes, unaware that the general populace are growing restless.

The Good
Coppola directs with an impressive sense of style that kicks off with some delightfully punky credits and includes frequent blasts of modern day rock on the soundtrack. She also adopts an Altman-esque approach to the script, with overlapping dialogue and scenes that emphasise the trivial over events of historical importance.

The set design is terrific and Coppola's attention to detail pays off handsomely with several memorable scenes. Dunst is excellent, even if Marie is too passive to be really interesting and there's strong support from the likes of Rose Byrne (who livens things up considerably as the Duchesse de Polignac), Steve Coogan (as Marie's patient advisor) and Schwartzman, who's quietly brilliant as Louis.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the script itself is surprisingly weak and history buffs will be frustrated, especially as we're denied the climax of Marie's execution (surely the money shot of any Revolution-era drama). In addition, the film gets off to a painfully slow start and its lengthy running time means that it outstays its welcome.

Worth seeing?
File under fascinating failure. A better script and a stronger ending could have made Marie Antoinette something amazing, but it never quite comes together.

Film Trailer

Marie Antoinette (12A)
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Content updated: 15/12/2017 23:30

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