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MARIE ANTOINETTE

Director: SOFIA COPPOLA

U.S.A.| 2006. COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 123 MIN.


SOFIA COPPOLA’S THIRD FEATURE (AFTER ‘THE VIRGIN SUICIDES’ AND ‘LOST IN TRANSLATION’) COMPLETES A LOOSE TRILOGY DEALING WITH YOUNG WOMEN WHO, IN THE FILM-MAKER’S OWN WORDS, ‘ARE TRYING TO FIND THEIR WAY IN THE WORLD.’

The French, unsurprisingly, were positively apoplectic at the concept of an American film-maker acquiring one of their greatest historical icons for her own auteurist ends. Coppola’s film, for all its wilful anachronisms, remains grounded in historical fact; the script is based on Antonia Fraser’s acclaimed revisionist biography of the Austrian-born queen, who finds herself trapped in a pampered, emotionally remote life, insulated from anything resembling reality. Is Coppola’s film really a wry commentary on today’s spoiled and oblivious young, with Marie as an 18th century Paris Hilton?

‘Virgin Suicides’ actress Kirsten Dunst (now a true movie star) is transcendently blank as the tragic party queen; the supporting cast, which includes Coppola’s cousin Jason Schwartzman (as disengaged hubby Louis XVI), Steve Coogan, Asia Argento, Marianne Faithfull, the increasingly ubiquitous Danny Huston and a gloriously ripe Rip Torn, all provide incidental colour. To dismiss Coppola’s vision (as many have) as shallow is to miss the point entirely; if anything, she’s a true film-maker for the modern age, an adept, wry chronicler of the tragically disengaged, a celluloid miniaturist who, in the spirit of her father Francis Ford Coppola (credited here, as ever, as Executive Producer), has crafted an utterly personal epic of the superficial. Then there’s the pitch-perfect pop soundtrack, which samples 1980s legends Gang of Four, New Order and Bow Wow Wow. Let them eat (eye) candy!—Derek O’Connor.

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