The film is visually stunning with beautiful photography of costumes and French landscapes, but aside from being pretty, there isn’t much to brag about. It’s kind of like a trophy wife that could have been a doctor. It has the potential but misses opportunities and relies heavily on aesthetics.
The story is, of course, about an Austrian teenager who becomes the queen of France. Coppola uses a modern rock soundtrack to tap into the idea of Marie’s teenage rebellion, which initially sounded like a hip and interesting thing to attempt. But after watching the film, it appears the music choice was more of a ploy to lure a younger audience like the Shakespeare-inspired films made in recent years that were set to modern soundtracks.
I kept wondering if the film would have been more artful and admirable if the soundtrack and mannerisms of the American actors had been more reflective of the period and country. With a different soundtrack, would “Marie Antoinette” have been more like “Amadeus?”
Unfortunately the score wasn’t the only problem. The script, also written by Coppola, lacked interesting dialogue and made the film boring. Even the castle scenes with the angry, torch-carrying mob beating on the doors were dull.
At this point, the viewer knows that the young king and queen will soon meet their doom, but there’s really no tension exhibited by either character. Marie Antoinette ultimately accepts her tragic fate, that of her children and husband, and says good-bye to France.
The passion that Dunst has demonstrated in other roles was absent in this film, but it doesn’t appear to be her fault. There were no scenes that utilized it. The movie lacked a character-defining moment when the young queen must stand up for herself or fight for her dignity and life using all the passion she possesses. And a film without a struggle and fight isn’t worth watching or making.