The director squanders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to film on the grounds and inside the Palace of Versailles. It's the trappings we get, in richly reproduced costumes and all-over gilt furniture, at the expense of any substance.
She was born into fabulous wealth and fame. By the time she was a teenager, her name was well-known to both the public and the well-to do. So is it any wonder Sofia Coppola wanted to do a movie about Marie Antoinette?
The result is a silly piece of costume jewelry called Marie Antoinette, and no, the soldering of a new-wave-revival soundtrack with 18th-century Versailles is not interesting enough to save this bauble.
Given Coppola's fashion-first approach, it's a miracle the film doesn't feel more like a long perfume ad. But the movie has atmosphere, beauty, spirit, and exquisite production design, photography, and editing.
Though Dunst looks the part and stunningly carries off foot-high powdered wigs and lavish costumes, her flat affect and simpering voice don't conjure up the requisite sense of arrogant power, corruption and narcissism.
Coppola brilliantly conjures the young queen's insular world, in which she was both isolated and claustrophobically scrutinized. While not celebrating Marie Antoinette's reign, Coppola clearly sympathizes with a girl who was less heedless than naive.
The one, transfixing virtue of Marie Antoinette is its unembarrassed devotion to the superficial. There is no morality at play here, no agony other than boredom, and, until the last half hour, not a shred of political sense.
Pouring Coca-Cola in the cabernet, Sofia Coppola's dazzling Marie Antoinette couldn't be more anachronistic if it showed the queen of France saying, 'Let them eat sushi.' Coppola works in weird ways, but the real Versailles was so much weirder.
Ms. Coppola and her colleagues have also taken an anachronistic approach to her material with an anarchic pop-music score suggesting the complacent spirit of a contemporary spoiled teenager infatuated with the glistening surfaces of her generation.
The movie slices through the cobwebs of history to seek the heart of the young Austrian princess whom 18th century political diplomacy thrust into a maelstrom of court intrigue and poisoned personal relationships without even asking if she minded.