“Have you ever been attracted to a woman?”
In the days leading up to the French revolution, Marie Antoinette shares an intimate secret with her reader, Sidonie, about the true nature of her heart.
Directed by Benoît Jacquot, Farewell, My Queen stars Léa Seydoux as Sidonie Laborde, Diane Kruger as Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, and Virginie Ledoyen as Gabrielle de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac and is based on the novel by the same name written by Chantal Thomas.
Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen is, by far, my favorite look (thus far) into the secret life of one of the most well known rulers in French history, Marie Antoinette. Lush, sumptuous, and filled with almost unbearable (in a good way) sexual subtext, Farewell, My Queen finally places stock in the rumors about Marie Antoinette’s secret affairs with other women, namely Gabrielle de Polastron.
In this case, Jacquot’s Marie Antoinette is a more fragile, more tormented depiction of the Queen, and the casting of Diane Kruger is key. Kruger’s inner poise and her ability to portray the oftentimes schizophrenic emotions Marie Antoinette must have felt on the eve of the Revolution make her irreplaceable in the role. Let’s face it, Kruger is a drop dead knock out whose performances here and in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds prove she is no longer just a pretty face, but a force to be reckoned with.
The incredibly intimate access afforded Sidonie, the Queen’s reader, is the basis upon which the entire of structure of the story is built. It is through her eyes that we see the ensuing chaos in the days leading up to and following the storming of the Bastille. We follow Sidonie, and her exclusively, as she occupies or provides the perspective for every scene in Farewell, My Queen. In this sense, the film has a slightly documentary-style feel to it, which makes it unique for a film in the historical drama genre. This is both a credit and a weakness to the film, potentially alienating those who are innately drawn to the genre but put-off by the cinemagraphic style.
Léa Seydoux’s performance is so intense and yet, somehow, devastatingly fragile, that through the character of Sidonie, you may also find yourself falling in love with the Queen.
Farewell, My Queen is an excruciatingly seductive tale of power, desire, loyalty, and sacrifice. You’ll never look at Marie Antoinette the same way again.
Diane Kruger (Marie Antoinette) Interview:
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