Sofia Coppola’s newest film, “Marie Antoinette,” tells the story of France’s “Queen of Debt.” Played by Kirsten Dunst, who also was in Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” Antoinette is portrayed as the misunderstood scapegoat for her country’s debt, who never really said “Let them eat cake.” Coppola puts a spin on the way biographies are normally told, presenting more of a portrait of Marie Antoinette’s feelings than a history lesson.
At just 19, Marie Antoinette began her reign over France with Louis XVI (Jason Shwartzman). The young queen encourages the arts and is praised by all, but Coppola offers the string of events that lead to the peoples’ eventual cries of “Off with her head!”
With gossip, shoes, parties, theater, shoes, affairs, and more glorious shoes, Coppola gives a glimpse into the luxurious life of Marie Antoinette. Actually filmed in the Palace of Versailles, you can imagine how stunning the scenery is. The setting and elaborate costumes, along with Coppola’s brilliant cinematography, make this movie a must-see.
The soundtrack brings the movie to an entirely different level. With the opening title scenes matched to the Gang of Four’s “Natural’s Not In It,” you immediately grasp Coppola’s hip vision of this historical figure.
Although there is little dialogue, the music combines with the visuals to tell a greater story than dialogue ever could. One particular scene, Marie Antoinette’s 18th birthday, stands above all others. The scenes of her extraordinary party with New Order’s “Ceremony” playing in the background reveals much about the passionate queen who simply was never given enough advice to understand how to rule.
It is clear that Dunst has matured as an actress when compared to her roles in chick flicks like “Bring It On.” She doesn’t overplay her role and its simplicity allows us to understand and interpret the feelings of this pampered but lost soul. Dunst makes us sympathetic for her greatly misunderstood character.
There are also many other great, yet somewhat smaller roles in the film. Jason Shwartzman is an excellent Louis XVI, keeping a constant somber expression for his quirky character. Steve Coogan plays an ambassador and, of course, adds to the film with his humor, as does Shirley Henderson, who most people probably know as Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies.
Overall, “Marie Antoinette” is the movie to see if you are looking for some serious eye candy and appreciate good music and acting.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.