But that, to a large extent, is the whole point. The sly power of Coppola’s films is that what people think are insults are actually perverse compliments. When she chooses to tell a story it’s because it touches a chord in her own experience – it suggests thoughts or emotions or experiences that she has shared. She doesn’t make grand statements, she tells stories about what she feels, and this is arguably a lot more honest than many other filmmakers.
She shares this honesty with her cast. Many have criticised Kirsten Dunst for “playing herself” – a spoilt Californian air-head – instead of getting into character. Again, this argument plays right into Coppola’s hands. To her, Marie was a spoilt Californian air-head, just as universal and as specific as the rest of us. And this paradigm applies to the rest of the cast. Why is Jason Schwartzman’s Loius so reminiscent of a computer nerd forced into a blind date? Because, accept it or not, teenage boys haven’t changed that much since the 18th century.
As for the claim that Marie Antoinette is just an excuse for a Hollywood brat to play dress-up with her friends, there’s no denying that Coppola is enjoying herself. Yet, in the context of the story she is trying to tell, there’s nothing frivolous about the costumes. And, in the end, why shouldn’t she have fun? We get to join in after all – the film is an absolute visual feast – so why exactly should we complain?
The final nail in the coffin for Coppola’s critics is the fact that she ends her film before Marie and Louis are beheaded, or even dethroned. This, they say, is cowardly. Yet this is really just Coppola being herself. She doesn’t need her film to be part of the grand sweep of history – certainly not the way other people define it. For all its visual grandeur and historical weight, Marie Antoinette is a small story, and that is both its genius and its curse.
- Alistair Fairweather
Marie Antoinette is history rewritten in neon pink icing. Beautiful, frivolous and untouchable, it's the kind of movie you either love or hate, but won't ever forget. Is it too much? Absolutely!
Just another typical Tom Cruise action film, with nothing to get too excited about. The film is loaded with action-film stereotypes and cheesy one-liners. Read More »
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Hands of Stone is a bland, unlikable portrayal of a real-life boxer that struggles to hit the highs of Rocky IV let alone Raging Bull or the original Rocky. Mark this one down as “for boxing fanatics only”. Read More »
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