Farewell My Queen – 3.75 stars
Downfall, but instead of Hitler and his bunker, it is Versailles and the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) is pampered by a coterie of attendants, including her reader and our protagonist (Lea Seydoux) a quiet but determined girl who adores her queen. Her adoration never wanes, even after the queen asks her to take flight and pose as a more favored courtier, Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen) with whom the Queen has developed a near romantic attachment. Seydoux knows this could be her head, but out of a childish need to please, a desire for purpose, and ultimately, the chance to at least play both above her station and the queen’s favorite, she agrees.
Shot at Versailles, the film is beautiful, even as it deglamorizes its locale (mosquitos, rats, vicious gossip, heat, and dank cellars take precedence over finery and gold). The depiction of life at court from the vantage point of rank-and-file staff has an “Upstairs, Downstairs” feel. Kruger plays Marie with the right mixture of caprice and entitlement. Seydoux is a bit tedious, however, because she is written as little more than a teen with a crush. Though her scene in the carriage as she pretends to be Polignac is moving (she waves to the peasants, one of whom makes a throat-slitting motion and even that does not dissuade her from fully indulging in her moment of glory), following a teen with a crush for an entire film can be a little boring. At its most dour, I yearned for Sofia Coppola’s dizzying and silly Marie Antoinette.