Marie Antoinette

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 January, 2007, 12:00am

THIS FILM devotes itself wholeheartedly and unabashedly to the superficial without the slightest sense of historical judgment or moral responsibility.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, Hollywood's over-hyped darling, the film is an unconventional biopic of the doomed 18th-century queen (Kirsten Dunst).

The new queen is a young woman who tries to break every custom at Versailles, including how to get dressed in the morning, to become France's leading fashion icon.

Everything about this costume drama is stylishly done, except perhaps for the pop music soundtrack which hardly fits the background.

Antoinette's court is like a fashion show in which everything - from the wigs and dresses, to the sweets the aristocrats nibble on - is exquisite. It even features a couple of cute dogs and children to charm the ladies.

The problem with the movie is that Coppola is trying to pardon the unpardonable. To portray Antoinette as the victim of her time is to ignore justice. The French queen has her problems, such as being forced to greet the king's mistress whom she despises. But if you want to eat and spend like a queen, you have to act like one.

The core of Antoinette's problem in the film is boredom - which is, of course, a luxury to her starved working-class subjects.

Only a Paris Hilton could sympathise with Coppola's Antoinette.

It is Dunst's loss that she delivers such a mesmerising performance in this superficial film. Her performance is close to flawless, and there are moments that she almost saves the film single-handedly. As she stares into the camera, her dreamy look speaks volumes about her frivolous life.

The film does not show us the gruesome death of Antoinette. But life and death hardly matter when Coppola seems to be striving for fashion rather than art.

The emphasis on lifestyle over life renders the film as substantial as the diary of a selfish rich girl who cares more about her pink slippers than the life of the ordinary people.

Marie Antoinette is now showing