Weekend posts are clearly going to be about entertainment.

Today PJ and I saw Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, a dazzlingly beautiful tribute to Versailles, eighteenth-century French fashion (especially shoes), and cake. Kirsten Dunst is quite good in it, as is Jason Swartzmann. I also thought that the modernized soundtrack worked well.

On the downside, the film’s obsession with these visual and aural elements ultimately seem to substitute for any particular point of view. We are given a sympathetic vision of Marie Antoinette but one can’t help but wonder why. Why give us this portrait now? Likewise, the film doesn’t seem as interested in historical events as it does in showing us Marie Antoinette’s good humor, fondness for cake, and loneliness. The less informed audience members (like me) find it difficult to follow the film’s leaps through time. On the one hand, the actors show little sign of aging. On the other hand, the film covers some 20 years in Marie Antoinette’s life.

On the whole, this is an entertaining, if somewhat empty tribute to the style, protocols, and excesses of the Bourbon court. It is a feast for the eyes, but I would have liked it better if it had also aspired to move or educate me.

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