Marie Antoinette

ARCHIVE: from Idiot Ego Issue 3
(reprinted without permission)

Montages. 80's music. Gay hairdressers. Champagne. Rip Torn gettin' on Asia Argento. Drinking. Gambling. Need I say more? If you ever thought you knew what a "period piece" was, Sofia Coppola's follow-up to Lost in Translation is here to tell you that you don't. The movie is not unlike the real Marie Antionette herself: indulgent, reckless, regal, unpretentious and somewhat immature. I didn't know much about the real story of Marie Antionette before I watched it, and I wasn't really much closer when it ended (I needed a quick brush-up on Wikipedia to set me straight.) The movie is definitely a paint-by-numbers version of her life, and it casually omits certain aspects while glossing over others.

Over the years, a lot of guys have tried to tell me that Kirsten Dunst is not hot. I beg to differ, gentlemen. There is something quite alluring about a woman in a classical French dress. The beautiful sets and costumes are really the main attraction of Marie Antionette, so much so that I wished I had seen it on the big screen. The movie was also filmed in France, in many cases in the actual palaces and gardens that once belonged to Maire Antionette. Jason Schwartzman, as Antionette's limp-dicked husband King Louie XVI, is my favorite piece of casting in a long time. I almost feel bad for him that he's so perfect in the role.

In the end, the story of Marie Antionette is a tale of vicious propaganda, basically the 18th century version of "bad publicity." Coppola's film reworks it all into terms that young people can understand and enjoy, while somehow managing to keep things believable. It's a breath of fresh air from the way a story like this would usually be filmed, and it's a gutsy and surprisingly successful experiment in putting a stylish, modern spin on a stiff old story.

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