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"Marie Antoinette"

Directed by Sofia Coppolla.
Written by Sofia Coppolla.
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Coogan and Rip Torn.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  10/19/06


Tonight's freebies were "The Prestige"--the OTHER magician film, by Christopher Nolan ("Memento")--or "Marie Antoinette", and as usual, I picked the one playing closest to my house...and, I'm glad that I picked that way, because I think I won out.

"Marie Antoinette"--the one playing just up the road--is the new film by Sofia Coppolla, who has "The Virgin Suicides" and "Lost in Translation" under her belt; it should be noted that I didn't love either one of those films and "Marie Antoinette" went the same way for me.  Although I was fighting off sleep at times during this film, I got the sense that others in my theater (HEAVY female-concentrated audience) liked the film a bit more than I did; they laughed a few more times than I did and generally thought the film was cute.

I didn't, and I think part of that is the Sofia Coppolla style of filmmaking--part lullaby, part mood piece, part experimental.  During "Marie Antoinette", we get Kirsten Dunst as Marie, a child of 1760s Austrian royalty who is married into French royalty, specifically Louis XVI (that's sixteenth, right?), played by Jason Schwartzman, who has done this character in every film he's ever done, but with a different costume.  The film covers their time together through rioting in Versailles thanks to unhappy townspeople who are wondering why they are all so poor all of a sudden.

But, what is in-between will either work for you, or not; mixing a modern-day rock soundtrack with very old-school costume design drama, somewhat modern dialogue and the complete abandonment of attempted accents, Coppolla gives us Marie as spoiled but longing modern-day 20-something bourgeoisie.  We mostly are left to watch Marie react to the silly nature of being the queen of any country anywhere; she is stunned by the number--and the pecking order--of her hand maidens; she is obsessed with going to see the opera when her husband seems perfectly happy eating big meals at home; the large posse that hangs out at the Versailles mansions are all dressed up with nowhere to go.  At times, this really is amusing, but the film's strongest asset is certainly its production design, which looks lavish, and its costumes, which Marie runs through in quick succession over the course of its two-hour running time.

But, ugh, the film is so boring at times!  Whereas I saw it as boring, I could tell that some of our audience members loved watching Marie obsess over her dog, her shoes, her hair, her costumes, her eventual children.  But, not I.  The soundtrack does work well; watching Marie run to a window, look out at a tree, and smile fifteen times in one movie did not work well.  Watching the couple fret over their requisite sex life is amusing at first, but by the fourth scene...well, you get the picture.  Again, this might work for some people, and in fact, from talking to my buddy Ross after I watched "Marie Antoinette", my guess is that if you loved "Lost in Translation" and "The Virgin Suicides", I think you will LIKE this new film, which isn't as good as her most recent Bill Murray/Scarlet Johansson effort.

I'm glad I saw this, because the trailer was intriguing...again, after I saw it, I'm glad I saw it for free.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09