Sofia Coppola is probably my favorite female director going today. Thematically her films are an excellent depiction of loneliness, isolation, and a longing to be. I’m super excited for The Beguiled and thought it would be nice to revisit some of her earlier work. I re-watched Somewhere and Lost in Translation recently and thought both were excellent. This is one I watched a while back and needed a fresh opinion on and honestly seemed like her most daring work so I was looking forward to seeing it once again.
The film is about young Marie Antoinette archduchess of Austria, her marriage into French nobility and her time and demise as Queen of France. I’ve always been a fan of Kirsten Dunst, I think she’s quite underrated as an actress (see Melancholia and S2 of Fargo). Her pairing with Sofia Coppola works really well; Coppola gets the best out of her regardless of whether this is an authentic representation of how Marie Antoinette was. Its wonderful to see the pressure that is put on Antoinette by others and how this leads to an untimely end for her reign.
We get another Coppola film showing a very lonely female character. Marie has to keep up to the prim and proper standards of 1700 France and be ladylike despite just wanting to live and have fun. She seeks a relationship and connection with a partner, one of which does not come easily. She has no meaningful compatibility with her husband Louis XVI of France which really impinges on her happiness. Along with that the tiring task of the day to day expectation of being queen.
I think Sofia Coppola really did well taking liberties on a historical drama. There is a presence of a humorous take and satirical approach to depicting the often ridiculous customs of the time. The set and costume design is superb proving that Coppola can handle a period piece even while putting an anachronistic spin on it (with the modern soundtrack). The modern soundtrack actually helped put an atmospheric touch on the film. Overall, its probably not the best of her work but its still a really strong effort and goes to show why we really shouldn’t care about negative critical response.