Marie Antoinette
Sofia Coppola, 2006

This movie is trying to make a fairly sophisticated point: Yes, there are evil people in the world who create mechanisms to aggregate wealth and power at the expense of the masses. But those mechanisms are self-perpetuating, and go on to work on behalf of the random people who happen to pop out of privileged uteri. The French public loathed Marie-Antoinette, and understandably so: people worked themselves to death seemingly in order to supply her with shoes. The message of this movie is that it wasn't her fault; she was just a warm body plugged into a system that long preceded her and that she didn't understand.

The problem is that this message doesn't make for a very good movie. The story of Marie-Antoinette's life is that upon reaching puberty she was married off to a stranger in a strange country where she was valued only as a support system for her reproductive organs. Thence followed several years of dressing rituals, dining rituals, and failed attempts at sexual intercourse — neither she nor her husband knew the procedure. Then came several years of parties, pastries, and dressing up. There are few things more tiresome than a trying-on-hats montage, and Marie-Antoinette's lasted for twenty years. So the fact that this movie is ultimately quite boring is perfectly understandable. It's hard to do a biopic about someone to whom nothing really happened.

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