'Marie Antoinette' drips with decadence

The Baltimore Sun

If a high-end patisserie ever went "all you can eat," the result would be something like Marie Antoinette, an endless gourmet pastry tray of a movie put together by a gifted young bakery chef, writer-director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation). It's high-caloric art-house moviemaking, full of pastry-coated, sugar-swirled ideas and historical moments dipped in candy. They are consumed entirely in the watching of the movie. They leave no aftertaste - no troubling thought, no haunting emotion, except, perhaps, a smile and a tear for Kirsten Dunst's cheerful valor in the title role.

Basing her script on Antonia Fraser's biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey - indeed, you can see where she virtually lifted paragraphs - Coppola comes up with a movie that reverses the impressions of the book. Fraser depicted a lighthearted and lovely girl developing into a formidable hard worker who tried to turn simplicity into the new royal style. Coppola fixates on her rockin'-rococo girlhood and young womanhood. With a soundtrack that mixes court music with groups like Gang of Four, the Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Coppola endlessly proclaims that aristos just want to have fun. Tragedy comes with more of a jolt to the audience than to the queen.

Marie Antoinette (Columbia) Starring Kirsten Dunst (left). Directed by Sofia Coppola. Rated PG-13. Time 118 minutes.

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