Oh, the tragedy of being a law-abiding citizen. I had passes to see an advanced screening of Marie Antoinette in a multiplex that was also showing a sneak preview of The Prestige. I resisted the urge to pull a bait-and-switch, and stuck with the movie I came to see.
About 30 minutes in, the film broke, so clearly I made the wrong decision. At that point I already knew that Maria (Kirsten Dunst), archduchess of Austria, was blindly paired with the heir to France's throne to form an alliance between the two countries. (Who needs treaties when you have arranged marriage?) The only good news was that Dunst had barely spoken any lines.
The rest of the film is similarly low on word count. I'll credit director Sofia Coppola with creating an overall mood in her film, but the sparse script left the audience begging for insight. She's a much better director than writer -- it's a great curiosity that she won an Oscar in the latter department. And then there's the music.
You know how modern music is played in period pieces like Moulin Rouge or A Knight's Tale, and the audience has to decide whether to be annoyed by the anachronism, or suspend disbelief and enjoy themselves? Same thing here. Much has been written about Sofia's choice to use a soundtrack of 1980's pop and new wave. I think it was a wise decision. Silence pervades so much of the movie that any joyful noise was welcome.
Generally, I'm not a Kirsten Dunst fan -- her mistaken casting in the Spider-Man movies is made more glaring because everyone else is so perfect -- but in this context, as a royal girl caught up in history, she makes for a believable Marie Antoinette. I didn't necessarily like her or this movie, but now I have reason to believe that her excellent turn in Bring It On was not an aberration.