Dir. Sofia Coppola. 2006. PG-13. 123mins. Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Judy Davis.
If you know only one thing about this biopic about the infamous French queen, you know that Coppola uses some contemporary music in the score. If you know two things, you know that it was booed at Cannes. Whether these two facts are related we will leave to you. For our money, the sudden intrusion of songs from the likes of New Order suggests that Coppola doesn’t trust her audience’s capacity to imagine anything different from their own world: What was it like to attend a grand ball in 18th-century France? Dude, it was like going to a really cool dance club, except that everyone’s outfits are fussier.
Though Coppola seems fascinated with the opulence of Versailles, cinematographer Lance Acord (Lost in Translation, Being John Malkovich) bafflingly makes it look ugly, and Sarah Flack’s editing doesn’t help, making the film both choppy and plodding.
Coppola seems to identify a bit too much with this royal heir, whose every move is scrutinized and judged by the ruthless French court. In early scenes, Marie (Dunst) is portrayed as almost a naive bumpkin (not bloody likely of an Austrian royal heir groomed to be a queen). Later she has been seduced to a life of excess, spending manically on shoes (too obviously scored with “I Want Candy”) to hide the pain of her life at court. Poor little rich girl. We’re supposed to side with Marie because she’s enough of a rebel to applaud at a royal command performance, an act that was an absolute no-no. You go, girl.—Hank Sartin