Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Off with her head

I'd anticipated seeing Marie Antoinette since I watched the trailer (another benefit of not missing the previews, natch) and heard its new wave soundtrack. Sofia Coppola possesses an entertaining combination of clout and wacky vision, so I knew it would be an interesting flick, artsy and decadent and different. I watched it at 11am during a "special school screening," so the atmosphere was appropriately adolescent - me (sucking a cough drop and bundled in frumpy maternity tights), surrounded by mobs of sixteen-year-old girls and a few boys who hadn't ditched the group in the U-Bahn on the way there.

The late, great Robert Altman said in his Oscar acceptance speech (um, paraphrased) last year that he has never been interested in stories; he's just been telling one long story for forty years. His movies are about characters. I imagine Sofia Coppola stuck her head out of the editing room or the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles or wherever she was at that moment and nodded vigorously. Marie Antoinette doesn't have much of a story, and even the characters can be flat, but she is all about creating atmosphere. I imagine she wouldn't have made this movie without negotiating full access to Versailles, and she clearly loved every second of her reign there. She makes sure her actors aren't rattling around in a vacuum-packed castle - they scamper outside in their silky dresses on a windy day; they wake up hung over with the servants clearing up the party mess. For the first time, I watched a period film without an inkling of Masterpiece Theatre. The cast fit their roles (though there are no huge breakout Bill Murray type stars as far as I'm concerned), especially Kirsten Dunst, who played up her slightly giggly youngster persona appropriately.

By the time the film was finished, I was ready to remove myself from the teenage masses - onscreen and off. I was a little tired of Marie and Louis and their sex life. I was sick of listening to whispered German/English coming from the seats behind me. I wanted some petit fours (and champagne! if only!) and I was in the mood for shoe shopping. Too bad Marie didn't have Zappos.

Speaking of shoes, you should really head over to my friend Daniela's blog. She writes about her fabulous shoes, and her funny daughter, and she is clever. I promise.


EuroTrippen said...

I'm a huge Sofia Coppola fan... loved The Virgin Suicides and LIT is one of my favorite films. I've been nervous about Marie Antoinette, though, ever since it was summarily panned at cannes.

Blythe said...

I think it was a big mistake to premier a hyped American film about a French queen in France. There wasn't a real chance for a positive reception there, especially if anyone in the audience was unfamiliar with Mlle. Coppola's approach or if they were expecting an accurate biopic. I'll bet the American critics were much kinder.