Friday, August 17, 2012

Farewell my Queen

Alternate Title:  Let them eat Boredom!

One sentence synopsis:     The French Revolution throws the life of Marie Antoinette and her servants into turmoil.

Things Havoc liked:  The French Revolution was one of the turning points in western civilization, bringing down the old order in France and paving the way for a new...


Things Havoc disliked:   ... you know what? No. I'm sorry. I can't do this. I can't go through this review the way I went through all the others, pointing out positive and negative things and giving the fair and balanced treatment. I just can't do it. This movie is... vapor. It might as well not exist. This film is so goddamn boring that I literally fell asleep during it, woke up ten minutes later, and missed nothing. It is the living stereotype of french films, a movie that is not only about nothing, but seems to have been made in between the shots of a different, better movie which we are not allowed to see.

Okay, a little explanation. The film takes place over four days in the French palace of Versailles, and centers around Marie Antoinette (played by Inglorious Basterds' Diane Kruger) and her "reader" (a servant whose job it was to read to the queen), played by MI4's Léa Seydoux. These four days occur just before, during, and in the aftermath of the famous storming of the Bastille, during which the King was forced to accede to the demands of the French Estates-General, ministers were beheaded, and any nobleman who could manage to do so fled the vicinity of Paris for their country estates, for other countries, or to raise armies in defense of the monarchy. It was a time of ferment and disorder, one of the great turning points in world history.

But forget all that boring crap, we have lesbians!

Yes, this movie discards all that boring riots/mobs/storming the Bastille stuff in favor of a character study of Marie Antoinette and her lesbian lover, the duchess of Polignac. At least I think that's what they're going for. Frankly, the story is so slow and mood-driven that I'm not sure what the point of all this was. We get long, drawn out tracking shots of Marie Antoinette looking longingly at her lover, while she is being watched by her servant, only for the screen to darken and a title crawl to inform us that it is now the next day, so that we can have further scenes of the same sort. There's a framing story, or to be more accurate there's about six framing stories, concerning the reader and her on-again off-again lover, and her friend, and her friend's boyfriend, and the gossip among the servants about the Duke of X or the Baron of Y and some old guy whom the reader knows who appears periodically and explains in a monotone voice that events which would be far more interesting have just happened so that everyone can stare longingly at one another again. It's not badly shot, it's not badly acted, it's not even badly made, it's just SO GODDAMN BORING that you want to claw your eyes out. I seriously wished I'd brought a newspaper.

Final thoughts: And that's it! That's literally all I can say about this movie. You might suspect in reading this that I must have missed two thirds of the movie, but there's basically nothing else to say here, good or bad. It is a series of scenes of the Queen of France making small talk or staring longingly at things until two hours is up and everyone goes home. The movie is not badly made, the cinematography is very nice, in that it shows off Versailles not as an idyllic paradise but as a dirty, threadbare, pestilent stone prison/castle (accurate to the time), and the costumes and makeup are all quite well done. But one would find more excitement watching a Ken Burns documentary on the same subject, and certainly more to talk about.

The final text crawl reminds us that Marie Antoinette, her husband, and children were all executed by a howling mob, baying for their blood. I would recommend the filmmakers consider that example very closely the next time they purpose to waste several hours of my time with this sort of tripe.

Final Score:  4/10

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