Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Top 10 Takeaways: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Opens Strong, But Summer 2015 Has Peaked Top 10 Takeaways: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' Opens Strong, But Summer 2015 Has Peaked Arthouse Audit: Controversy Reigns as 'End of the Tour' Tops Limited Newbies and Weinstein Dumps Jeunet's Latest Arthouse Audit: Controversy Reigns as 'End of the Tour' Tops Limited Newbies and Weinstein Dumps Jeunet's Latest Friday Box Office: Cruise and 'Mission: Impossible' Do Their Part, But Grosses Lag Friday Box Office: Cruise and 'Mission: Impossible' Do Their Part, But Grosses Lag Fall Calendar Reveals Awards Itinerary and Stealth Contenders Fall Calendar Reveals Awards Itinerary and Stealth Contenders Sarajevo Film Fest Lineup Has Auteurs, Cannes Winners and Favorites Sarajevo Film Fest Lineup Has Auteurs, Cannes Winners and Favorites Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) Jason Segel Takes On David Foster Wallace in Controversial 'End of the Tour' (VIDEO) First Look: Cynthia Nixon Plays—and Narrates—Emily Dickinson in Two Films First Look: Cynthia Nixon Plays—and Narrates—Emily Dickinson in Two Films Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies Read Martin Scorsese's Column on His Favorite Hollywood Leading Ladies A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution A Woman in Charge: Warner Bros. Names Sue Kroll Head of Global Distribution Netflix and Marvel Shake Up TCAs, Amazon Rescues Bryan Cranston Pilot Netflix and Marvel Shake Up TCAs, Amazon Rescues Bryan Cranston Pilot 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A)

'Farewell My Queen' Director Jacquot Takes a Sapphic Turn with Marie Antoinette

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 19, 2012 at 4:23PM

There's a reason why French director Benoit Jacquot's "Farewell My Queen" (July 13) was chosen to open the Berlin and San Francisco Film Festivals, as well as making its North American debut at COLCOA this week. The period movie, set in 1789 on the verge of Bastille Day, is a sexy period spectacle that takes us backstage at Versailles...
1
Virginie Ledoyen in Benoit Jacquot's 'Farewell My Queen'
Virginie Ledoyen in Benoit Jacquot's 'Farewell My Queen'

There's a reason why French director Benoit Jacquot's "Farewell My Queen" (July 13) was chosen to open the Berlin and San Francisco Film Festivals, as well as making its North American debut at COLCOA this week. The period movie, set in 1789 on the verge of Bastille Day, is an intimate and sexy period spectacle that takes us backstage at Versailles and into territory Sofia Coppola was not willing to go. Jacquot was entranced by Chantal Thomas's 2002 novel, a feminist take on Marie Antoinette told from the point-of-view of "la lectrice de la reine," who reads books to her queen. Jacquot loved the idea of making a film from a feminine point-of-view at a time when most films focus on men. (Trailer below.)

While Coppola was looking at fifteen years in the life of Antoinette, Jacquot takes four days at the end of her life. This time, the Queen (Diane Kruger) is madly in love--not with her neglectful husband, King Louis the XVI (Xavier Beauvois), with whom she has two children--but with best chum Gabrielle di Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen).

Watching her queen's reaction to the unfolding Revolution is her loyal reader, Sidonie Laborde, played by Lea Seydoux ("Midnight in Paris"). Laborde is a much younger and more fetching wench than the 50ish reader in Thomas's book. Seydoux reminded Jacquot of someone who could have been painted by Renoir. "She brought this carnal dimension," he says. "She has incontrovertible sex appeal."

The lesbian slant on Antoinette's passion for Polignac "was a probability," says Jacquot. "It is not certain, but we know through the historical archives and letters of the period that women in aristocracy in that time exalted the exchange between women.  Using your imagination, you could go much further and take a more intimate angle. In my point-of-view, why not?"

Jacquot, who has made numerous documentaries as well as period films, many of them for television, brings a contemporary feel to the filmmaking. "I look at the film as if it's happening now," he says, "not in the past, through the actors." He dressed them in accurate Christian Gasc costumes (gorgeously Oscar-worthy) and placed them in Versailles (the back rooms were done, like Coppola's, in castles nearby), and asked them to inhabit those people "until the costume is no longer a costume."

This article is related to: Interviews , Interviews, Period


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.