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There’s a certain point in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette where it just lost me. Up until that point, the film had been a solid double legged out into a skittish triple, but perhaps, my hunger got the best of me, but I just tuned out and kept on wondering how much longer? The film is for the most part is Barry Lyndon as if it was directed by Terrence Malick with a few wet t-shirt contest scenes (maybe NSFW) to spice things up a bit. Yet to compare Coppola’s work to Malick and Kubrick just isn’t right because Coppola really wants to be like Antonioni and Wong Kar Wai, but that’s besides the point. The film until it reaches the point where the audience just can’t stand to see another shot of Marie running around in the tall grass. Sure, the cinematography is beautiful and the production design is outstanding, but this film needed more than rich visuals to hold the audience in. When a film has no real plot or at least pretends to be a character study, then the characters and the performances need to over power the visuals.
For an hour or so, I can deal with Kirsten Dunst wandering around, feeling aloof and disconnected with the court, but there needs to be more significant development in the story than that. Lost In Translation worked for some people, myself included because of the performances by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson were strong and engaging. In that first hour or so, the performances in the film were funny and interesting, but as soon we see Marie dancing around in the grass for what seems like fifth or sixth time, I was ready to check out and get some dinner. It just stopped being funny and wanted to be slightly serious, even though, the film remains rather neutral about Marie Antoinette. Maybe, I just lost interest in the film because there were no more Kirsten Dunst wet t-shirt moments and Steve Coogan would appear in a scene for thirty seconds.
Marie Antoinette is an interesting mess. While Coppola is a minimalist filmmaker, she manages to fill the frame well and made a film full of rich colors and costumes, but in terms of a content, it’s just not there. If Coppola wanted to that ever elusive “If Kubrick directed a teen movie….” type of film, then she should’ve had Daniel Waters work on the script.