Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/Spain, 2012. GMT Productions, Les Films du Lendemain, France 3 Cinéma, , Canal+, Euro Media France, Ciné+, Invest Image, Région Ile-de-France, La Banque Postale Images 5, Soficinéma 7, Palatine Étoile 9, France Télévision, Angoa, Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Procirep. Scenario by Benoit Jacquot, Gilles Taurand, based on the novel by Chantal Thomas. Cinematography by Romain Winding. Produced by Jean-Pierre Guérin, Kristina Larsen, Pedro Uriol. Music by Bruno Coulais. Production Design by Katia Wyszkop. Costume Design by Christian Gasc, Valerie Ranchoux. Film Editing by Luc Barnier, Nelly Ollivault.
It is days before what we know now as the French Revolution is going to hit its peak, and the palace of Versailles is already buzzing with the anticipation of change. Those closest to Marie Antoinette, however, put their best effort into keeping things in regular working order for her sake, including a servant girl (Léa Seydoux) who is employed to read to Her Majesty at her pleasure. Being the purveyor of her literary delights is enough to make the young woman completely devoted to the queen (Diane Kruger), and it guides the course of her decisions as the days pass, the Bastille is stormed and the monarchy finds itself in danger of being eradicated forever. This subtle, superbly enjoyable film by Benoit Jacquot shows his best effort yet at presenting the rhythms and romances of period drama, his first historical piece to match the best of his contemporary work. Kruger does a terrific job of playing the queen’s emotional detachment while also giving us a good reason to find her charismatic and bewitching, matched by Virginie Ledoyen as her closest companion who represents everything that is hated about the aristocracy by those below them. The film entirely belongs to Seydoux, however, as she spends the entire film with a camera gazing closely at her face, which is completely engrossing in every single scene.