Ben Oliver

Banner image for Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

There’s something in the oysters!
25 June 2014

Three years after her success with Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola follows up with this revisionist historical biopic starring Kirsten Dunst as the ill fated French monarch.

Marie Antoinette was so widely panned by critics at the time it almost put me off watching, but I’m so glad I didn’t listen.

Having just finshed laying into The Great Gatsby you might think me a hypocrite for liking this so much, since it makes such prominent use of modern music and renagues on classical style. However it’s been so carefully considered and chimes so well with the action that I think Baz Luhrmann should watch and learn. This is how it’s done.

Same goes for any display of decadence or greed. Gatsby drags on with its slow motion and Jay-Z just to make one point - these people love money and things. Marie Antionette uses these moments to make us think. It’s thought provoking rather than reactionary. The sequence with New Order’s Ceremony is a real triumph. Coppola is playing the same game as Luhrmann, she’s just in a different league.

The cinematography has a certain grainy, colourful quality to it; it’s nostalgic but doesn’t distance the viewer. I find so many period pieces to be so formal and drab in their style, this is refreshing and keeps you interested.

The sound design also chimes nicely with the tone of the movie. It’s almost like the microphone is strapped to the camera itself, when we’re far away voices are as quiet as a mouse and when we’re close in we hear every last gasp of breath. It’s at times personal, at times aloof.

Rather than try to recount the past fact for fact, Coppola simply has an idea and gets it on screen. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not a masterpiece, but go into it with an open mind and you might just come out with a new perspective.