This adult-minded tale around the French Revolution should sate art house cineastes and history buffs alike as helmer Benoit Jacquot elegantly glides through intimacy which resonates among its motifs. The characters arguably come across with more thoughtfulness than in Sofia Coppola's audaciously lavish Marie Antoinette.
Farewell, My Queen stars (as the principals) Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds), Lea Seydoux, and Virginie Ledoyen (The Valet, 8 Women), transpiring over 72 hours from Bastille Day.
Kruger's monarch Marie Antoinette is still committed to a life of luxury at Versailles when it comes to fashion and decor, having a confidante in her reader, Seydoux's Sidonie, who procures and recites books to her.
Sidonie, who resides in the servants' quarters, is the key viewer portal to an unfolding of distress and apprehension as panic sets in; she persists in her closeness to the Queen, involved in her bidding. The production values with sharp hand-held lensing doesn't ignore a sense of loose squalor with beheading on the way with dead rats in a pond and stale bread. The dichotomy is in place when it comes to the aureate main palace, the narrow candlelit servants' quarters and lesser swank chateau of the Queen's refuge.
One of the secrets learned by Sidonie is the monarch's deep affection and grief regarding the duchess Gabrielle, with Ledoyen (also remembered further back from Danny Boyle's The Beach) in arguably the most striking scene. So, Sidonie serves the role of a therapist with devotion and willfulness as a regime is about to collapse with Seydoux (who displayed much athleticism in the often thrilling Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) not hampered at all by the cloistered spareness and desperation increasing throughout.
Consequently, Jacquot's lush rendition of a well-known piece of history has a discerning acuity to it and lets the relationships simmer naturally like when Sidonie is treated with rosewater for her many mosquito bites. Farewell My Queen, in its distinct way of capturing the details and mood in a time when homeless piled up at the gates and mobs began filling the streets, is quite satisfying tightly-knit, informative tapestry.
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