Sunday, September 16, 2012

Les adieux à la reine (Farewell, My Queen)

An interesting glimpse into history in a movie that actually was filmed in Versailles and surprisingly for me shows not only the sumptuous lifestyle inside the palace but also the grim world of servant quarters. But I was not captivated by story as while watching I was thinking more about the different worlds that inhabit the palace and the historic events that happened at that time which amazingly resemble so much to what is happening today in current world time.

Based on a book with the same name by Chantal Thomas, this Benoît Jacquot film tells the story of four days at the eve of the French Revolution seen by a fictional character, Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux) who is a reader to Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger). It is tale that that perfectly fits the label of a "women's point-of-view" as in story we have mainly female characters telling us about monarchy reactions to the storming of La Bastille, that with its fall is the flashpoint to the French Revolution and the beginning of modern France.

Let's be clear, this is not a history class. In the surface is a tale of a woman that will do anything and everything for the queen and indeed she does; but at least for me, was impossible not to relate what I was seeing to historical events and in my opinion, here is where this movie excels as have seen other same-period movies and none made me think about historic events. If you know your world history then maybe the same could happen to you and if it does, believe me, is a very interesting ride.

Movie absurd marketing told us that film had lesbian interest, specifically Marie Antoinette relationship with Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen). As a matter of fact film was competing for the Teddy Award in the 2012 Berlinale, where was also in the main competition for the Golden Bear. Now I can tell you that film had no opportunity to win the Teddy as there is not much lesbian interest in this movie, just a few short scenes that suggest something that now, after reading historic facts, learned that has never been factual as seems was used for political reasons. I'm talking about de Polignac being Marie Antoinette lesbian lover published in the newspapers of that time. So if you watch movie expecting what marketing promised, maybe you will be disappointed.

Besides what I call my "history provocation" this movie has something else that definitively allowed me to think so much and follow closely what I was seeing in the screen, outstanding Léa Seydoux performance and quite good Diane Kruger interpretation of Marie Antoniette that included an Austrian accent while speaking French, which magnificently resembles possible reality. Brief Virginie Ledoyen performance was too short for me as I really like her performances and most of all, her fabulous voice tone. Last, but not least, film is a feast for the eyes if you enjoy watching glorious period costumes.

Have no idea if director storytelling style had the purpose to provoke history relationships, but know that his intention was to portrait intense emotions in a close environment far away from where history was developing. Actually he shows a tight close environment as camera never leaves Versailles in film and what we see in screen is characters having all sort of emotions; but for me, as a viewer, didn't felt any emotions, I was only an spectator, like a fly in the wall that can see everything but can't feel anything.

It's unusual for me to wait a long time before writing a review, but this time I wanted to digest what I saw and my reactions before deciding what to write, maybe that is why this review is kind of "brainy" but after all my first and foremost experience with this film was very brainy. I can't assure you will have the same experience but what I can suggest is not to skip this film that surely has something that you could enjoy.


Watch trailer @MOC

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