It is rare, but at times one recognizes a well-made film, beautifully- acted, a tale resonating with verisimilitude but fails to entice, engross or fully entertain ; “Farewell, My Queen” falls into this category.
July 14, 1789, Versailles, France; King Louis XVI, and Queen Marie Antoinette are about to meet their historical fates; the imminent bombarding of the Bastille; luxury interspersed with mewing, starving locals; torrid tension between masters and servants; the stage is set for final farewells. Director Benoit Jacquot’s focus is on three women with colossal complexities: Marie Antoinette (faceted, sensitive performance by Diane Kruger) spoiled, sculpted by her title and jewels, agonizing and positively fearful of the demise of her greatest passion, “Gabrielle de Polignac” (blandly, beautiful Virginie Ledoyen); “Sidonie Laborde” lady-in-waiting, the Queen’s reader (forceful, intriguing performance by Lea Seydoux), her love and devotion for the Queen (largely unreciprocated, but positively expected) dangerously flirts with the destructive; she is intelligent but defined and refined by her idolatrous, royal obsession. Seydoux grasps the crux of Laborde and never relinquishes her custody of the role.
Jacquot is successful in depicting the foppery and foibles of the monarchy, myopia and sycophancy of those closeted at Versailles (a gilded prison); ironically, their only means of escape, is disguised as the meager citizens they, without conscience had raped for generations, denying them their inalienable rights.
What was extremely problematic and robbed the film of enjoyment was the hand-held camera; the intimacy was annoying to the point of nausea, vertigo; every pore, bead of perspiration, mole, disheveled, powdered wig was nastily shoveled at the viewer; perspective eliminated by bludgeoning, over-exposure, exploitation of the senses, by this popular, but in this instance failed, filming technique. It was also dark to the point of drudgery, with the exception of the shimmering opulence, magnificent halls of Versailles; a resplendent metaphor of why their privileged, entitled world, toppled.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!