Never mind the bollocks here’s the title card for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, jagged black and hot pink, amid opening credits scored to the Gang of Four. This is nobody’s father’s biopic: navel-gazer Coppola’s version of Rococo France is another painless hangover, all woozy pace, lightheaded cinematography courtesy Lance Acord, and the repeated image of its teen Queen (Kirsten Dunst) rudely awakened from the sleep of the blameless.
But Marie Antoinette’s anachronism, with its tres hip post-punk soundtrack and cast mostly playing themselves (socially maladroit Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI, garrulous Rip Torn as Louis XV, here a stammering Steve Coogan and a pinched Judy Davis, there a fatale Asia Argento or a chattering Molly Shannon), isn’t the airheaded dress-up some have claimed. For one, who says Coppola’s use of Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” to accompany an MTV montage of Dunst and the girls trying on shoes doesn’t capture the fashionable frivolity of the Versailles Court? Moreover, Coppola’s establishing of the era’s social upheavals via secondhand reports from government ministers and canned Angry Mob noises suggests her movie assumes its ahistorical remove consciously — that her champagne-fizz, Cure-scored movie demonstrates the inevitability of the real French monarchy seeing its rarified bubble popped by forces too large to resist.
Given the eye-rolling culture-clash comedy treatment of Austrian princess Antoinette’s initial arrival in Versailles, this may be giving Coppola too much credit for historical savvy. It’s possible I’m just a sucker for any movie cuing up New Order’s ‘Ceremony’ in an effort to win me over to its wavelength. Then again, I don’t exactly envy anyone who isn’t.
Opens October 20