In my previous list of Cannes fest favorites I failed to include a movie that I thought was quite good...and reading a few recent articles (HR, IHT, People) about it makes me want to give it a bit of a boost. Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," which opened last week here in France, was in some ways as risky as Richard Kelly's Cannes competition entry, "Southland Tales." Yet, her film feels fully baked and succeeds, while Kelly's is probably still a work-in-progress that will no doubt re-emerge as a finished film down the road.
During a festival like Cannes, critics and journalists are quick to declare a film a winner or a loser, trying to beat other writers to the punch. So, headline writers seemed ready to cast Coppola's film a failure and a friend back in New York told me that she heard the film bombed in Cannes after reading a headline about the movie being booed at the fest. In fact, at the first press screening, the audience was applauding enthusiastically when a few countered with some booing. It was hardly an all-out dismissal. Given that the film offers an unconventional take on a notorious French figure, its hard not to expect such a reaction. In fact, I recall a much more divided and vocal reaction at the first press screening of "Moulin Rouge" a few years back.
Coppola's distinctive, original new film is worth a look. Apparently some feel there is not enough history in a film about a historical figure, but speaking for myself, her movie piqued my interest in an infamous figure inviting me to learn more about her, and along the way I was thoroughly engaged and entertained.