Last night, I saw the Sofia Coppola costume drama about the « Qu’ils mangent du gateau » half of the life of the last great Sovereign of «l’Ancien Regime. »
Despite the brilliant shots of Versailles and the splendid, historically realistic sets, and despite the fact that the wonderful 80s music doesn’t jar nearly so badly as I thought it would with the Rameau and the Lully pieces, the film is still a fiasco for one specific reason: its leading lady thoroughly lacks the regal hauteur, the majestic presence of the scion of Hapsburg and Lorraine who was able to make mincemeat out of Fouquier-Tinville, the person about whom Mirabeau said that she was “the only man” in Louis XVI’s entourage. Instead, we’re treated to Kirsten Dunst’s insipid smirks during her seduction scene with Fersen.
As one of the reviewers has said, the film is such a monument to pleasure that even the smallpox that kills Rip Torn as Louis XV is kept off the screen. I think the French booed it at Cannes because it almost completely omits the tribulations that deepened the character of this princess and made of her the greatest of royalist heroines.
Also, there’s no sense whatsoever in this film of why the French, among all the Europeans, were the most deeply worshipful of their sacral monarchy—which must, in part, account for the violently emotional reaction of the mobs of Revolutionaries against their suzerains, once they felt they’d been betrayed by them.
But here’s a reviewer who doesn’t agree with me at all:
This thing was supposedly based on Lady Antonia Fraser’s biography, but, if so, I wonder how Coppola would DARE to suggest that the Dauphin was fathered by Fersen. That suggestion DOES “trivialize” the very things that this “Queen of Trivialities” DID take seriously—her divine right and royal lineage.