Saturday, October 21, 2006

MARIE ANTOINETTE

Here it is, folks. You know in your heart of hearts this is what you’ve been waiting for. The first Scott Nye full-on geek-out over a movie in 2006. The movies I had huge expectations for and just went crazy for every single second of it. This is that movie.

I’m going to try to distance myself from the three-page rants that befell Elizabethtown (I still stand by every word), mostly because I want you to stay as surprised and elated as I was for every second. It starts out very powerfully though, I’ll just say that, and lets you know that although this is a costume drama set at an important time in French history, it knows how to party. Because that’s basically what the movie’s about…the party. It never ventures outside of Marie Antoinette’s worldview, but through the magic director Sofia Coppola wields, you understand the larger issues at play here.

And what magic…look, I LOVE Sofia Coppola. The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, the only other two movies she’s ever made, are two of my all-time favorites. Lost in Translation especially… I wrote a huge, almost three-page piece on it, but I lost it when my computer crashed, but basically…that movie saved my life in a lot of ways. I have huge, immense respect and affection for it, and it’s probably the deepest and most profound impact any single piece of art has ever had on my life. Sofia Coppola could do a movie on dung beetles and I’d still be first in line.

Then of course, Kirsten Dunst, who Sofia Coppola made me fall in love with after seeing The Virgin Suicides. I’m totally serious when I say she’s my favorite actress working today. Not the best by any stretch, but she has an energy and a magnetic quality that extends beyond being a total babe. This film puts her in a new league. Even her harshest critics would have a hard time denouncing such a total portrayal of a person. She handles innocence, heartbreak, confusion joy, seduction, and a thousand other things beautifully. She and Coppola and a huge cast really convey the insanity and ridiculous formality of being in Versailles at the time.

That she’s backed up by Jason Schwartzman, one of the best young actors, only adds to the film. Schwartzman has VERY few lines in this movie, and you couldn’t find a character more distant from Rushmore’s Max Fisher or Huckabees’ Albert Markovski or Shopgirl’s Jeremy Kraft (all of whom are, in their own right, totally different from each other), but it’s just stunning, often hilarious work.

Sofia Coppola’s created something very different from her previous two films, but thematically similar (in that it dealt with young women in huge transition phases trying to find themselves in an increasingly crazy world). It’s almost intangible, but I think it’s largely that it tells a more complete story. It’s certainly more ambitious, but it succeeds just as well. Marie is her most beautiful film to date, with a huge part due to its costumes and sets (I believe they were the only film ever allowed to shoot IN Versailles, and if not it’s one of few). And I swear they could have taken out all the dialogue and the story would still be told. A lot of films look good, and they’re getting a lot better at it every day. But few filmmakers have figured out how to communicate almost entirely through pictures. To me, the only people who really ever knew how to do it have been Stanley Kubrick (who did 2001, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and a dozen others you should really see) and Terrence Malick (who did The New World and The Thin Red Line), and this film confirms what I’ve been secretly believing for three years now – Sofia Coppola is the most important filmmaker of her generation. There, I said it. She’s doing incredible, original work with some very talented people, and the result is being shown on screens across the nation.

As a final note, the soundtrack kicks ass right from the beginning. This is probably the element that’ll make the film connect completely with the young audience it’s aiming for, and it’s handled in a beautiful way that I can’t believe is getting so much crap. It’s blasting through my headphones right now, and I have a feeling I’ll be listening to this for weeks.

Did I mention I love this movie? Hopefully.

EDIT: I should mention that this movie has no aims of historical accuracy, and stays entirely within the grounds of Versailles (besides a quick trip to Paris). Most of you know I have a HUGE problem with people going to movies expecting them to be slaves to history and to try to teach us something, so if that's what you want, The History Channel's doing fantastic work. But if you want to see a movie with emotions and beauty and depth and fun...step right up.

1 comment:

Cynda said...

Apparently the french booed at the movie.

I liked it although I was expecting something a little different.