Farewell, My Queen - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Farewell, My Queen Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2012
With many inelegant zooms and clumsy camera movements, this irregular drama also fails to develop well Sidonie's devotion to the Queen, and so their trust relationship feels forced and rushed. Still, the story creates some good tension following a fictional character of uncertain fate.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2012
Similar in a way to Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. This film focuses more on the servants than the queen herself. The period details seemed more accurate. It is worth hearing the story in the French language. There is something melodic in the sound. The camera work often utilizes long uncut shots with the camera freely moving back and forth between people. It looks a bit nontraditional and while it didn't bother me, I'm not sure what it adds. I enjoyed the upstairs/downstairs nature of the drama. Lea Seydoux as Sidonie and her complicated relationship with Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette is especially compelling. Lea plays a literate, creative, curious, and bold young woman, a character who generally needs to hide these qualities. The spoiled young queen is much more fragile and fickle than one might expect. It is about the chaos faced by those who had power, but even more so by those who served the people in power, when their way of life was crumbling around them.
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2012
"Farewell, My Queen" starts on July 14, 1789 in France where the quiche is about to hit the fan. That's in Paris. In Versailles, at court, events proceed normally. Even with the luxury of a clock, Sidonie(Lea Seydoux) is still late for her appointment to read to Marie Antoinette(Diane Kruger) who does not really mind, either way. Otherwise, Sidonie is employed for embroidery. On a personal note, she is teased relentlessly about her virginity, especially with the handsome Paolo(Vladimir Consigny) on the premises. She is not the only one, as the Duchess Gabrielle de Polignac(Virgnie Ledoyen) is herself the subject of her share of rumors. And then the news reaches them in the middle of the night...

"Farewell, My Queen" is a briskly paced historical thriller that tells the beginnings of the fall of the House of Bourbon in France, as seen through they eyes of one servant girl. This point of view which used elsewhere before works especially well here in allowing the viewer to follow the story as the characters find out themselves, as aided by the natural lighting. As you can imagine, the movie is steeped in historical detail but not the usual fancy side, but a darker one, like rats. Since we know about the literal rats, how about the metaphorical rats? As dramatized, that's what the whole tragedy of the French royalty comes down to as they have never had to make a decision without others to do so for them before, and now have a huge one to make. With foresight being 20/20, we know the story of the Bastille and what comes next but here it is less certain and seems like it might be containable. So, what to do?
Super Reviewer
½ August 23, 2012
A good if not great film detailing the end of Marie Antoinette's period in the royal house in France from the point of view of her favourite attendant. Interestingly enough, the attendant is far more interesting than Kruger's simple queen.
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2012
Farewell, My Queen, in a nutshell, is a film that may not have been as finite as its title leads you to believe. Do we experience Marie Antoinette moments before the revolution, when everybody and their heads were on the line? Yes. Do we see this "final hour" (it's a few days but still) solely through the eyes of one of her servants, as the film works as both her loving tribute and her contained anger towards the queen? Yes. So, what's missing? Why does this farewell leave me with a bad taste in my mouth? Why does it feel like one of those phonecalls where someone hangs up before saying their goodbyes?

It's because the film, as a whole, is stunning, superb, engaging, and intensifying. Diane Kruger plays Marie Antoinette in a similar way Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter. No, Kruger did not make Marie Antoinette a cannibal (although she did tend to bite peoples heads off, and that's the last terrible joke of this review), but instead she makes Marie Antoinette the star of the show when she really wasn't on paper. Like Hopkins, Kruger really wasn't in the film that often. There are very long moments where you won't even see a glimpse of her. However, when she is on screen, she steals the show with one of the best performances I have seen all year. Kruger has proven to the world that she really does have more up her sleeve, and I'm sure this film will be the one that propels her from being a pleasant actor to being a household name (much like Hunger finally boosted Michael Fassbender, and look how unstoppable he is now). Her portrayal is unpredictable, ranging from facetious highs to bitter lows. She could have made her the villain of the film, of which she is a bit in a sense, but instead Kruger leaves her remaining likable and full of sympathy.

The visuals are nothing short of gorgeous. Usually I have a tough time believing period pieces because they seem too fake or too costume-y, but this film is one of the better efforts visually. The costumes were just right, the architecture and settings breathtaking, and even the camera angles, tones and the shadows recorded were all mesmerizing (save for the odd bizarre camera pan and/or zoom). There are long hallways that go on for a lifetime, there are windows that capture the world outside on the inside, and just so many beautiful, intricate things going on. Definitely one of the best films visually of the year. Sadly, that's not enough to save it.

The problem is that the film started many things but it never truly ended them, especially in regards to itself. The film's about to reach a climax, and it ends suddenly. There are characters that come, and they aren't really necessary nor do they get a proper finale. I get that this movie is seen through the perspective of a servant, but it still doesn't excuse the amount of unfinished business. Take Atonement, for example, another period piece seen through the eyes of someone of a lower position. That film, if it didn't have answers, at least had implied answers so we could do as we will with what we have. Here, we aren't given anything. We know what happens to Marie Antoinette, but that doesn't justify the film having such an anti climactic ending.

It's unfortunate because I was sitting there thinking "Wow, this is one of the better films of the year" the whole time right until the ending. I have no problem with sudden endings if the film deserves it. Maybe Farewell, My Queen does. As a first impression, however, it does not. The film is still worth checking out, because of Diane Kruger's phenomenal performance and the stunning visuals. In fact, the pacing and story for the most part are worth it, too. Just expect a very little pay off at the end.

Final Rating: 6.8/10
November 8, 2013
Interesting way of telling a familiar story, but the experimental nature of it fails for the most part. Suffers from being extremely dull in large parts, and is probably its greatest offense. Lea Seydoux gives a good performance, but it largely feels like she doesn't have much to work with. Historically, I find Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette pretty uninteresting as figures of history anyway, and the psuedo-documentary accomplishes what it sets out to do, but as I said in a tedious manner that indeed does feel life-like. Unfortunately that's the problem.
½ June 9, 2013
I still most prefer Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette movie (though Diane Kruger's pouty prettiness almost matches Kristen Dunst's lovely dreaming head in that film), but "Farewell, My Queen" won me over with its dark beauty, director Benoit Jacquot capturing the end of the French Revolution -- and the power of an era -- mainly in the dusty, empty rooms of the Queen's mansion in perishing flux. The cinematography and acting by Kruger alone is nearly enough to forgive its lack of depth and tension in servant Lea Seydoux's protagonist, but then the non-ending happened in a needless wrap-it-up voice-over. Still, incredibly well-made and for sure worth seeing.
March 16, 2013
Upstairs Downstairs Goes to the French Revolution in a sumptuous presentation of the key historical moment from the perspective of the servants at Versailles, specifically a young woman Sidonie who is Marie-Antoinette's "reader". I loved the interplay between the scenes in the gorgeous palace rooms and the communal tables and rabbit-warren rooms of the servants' quarters; the gossip; the back-biting; the sex. And, who knew that the Queen was a lesbian?
½ December 28, 2012
While I doubt this will be the most enthralling French Revolution picture people will see this year (there seems to be another called Les Miserables getting a lot of attention), this one deserves much praise and its three central actresses all deserve hearty praise. It is the story of the final days Sidonie (Lea Seydoux - Midnight in Paris, Mysteries of Lisbon, Robin Hood) -- a reader for the ill-fated, doomed Queen of France Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger - Inglorious Basterds, Troy, National Treasure) -- spends with her much-admired and loved Queen before the revolutionaries storm Versailles in protest of aristocratic wealth, indifference and lack of benevolence in relationship to the horrific conditions in which most of the French population found themselves living. In the idyllic and prestine Versailles, the royalty was worlds apart from the hardships of the common man (although this doesn't give them a free pass at not knowing of the human suffering) and Marie Antoinette's seeming frivolity, foreign-ness (she was Austrian) and obvious playing of favorites (such as the MUCH despised Duchess de Polignac) made her an easy target for the rioting and beleaguered masses. Seydoux's watchful eyes provide depth to her character and Virginie Ledoyen enamors with limited screentime as the Duchess (it is easy to see why the Queen would 'lose her head' over her). We are given very little of the actual Queen other than seeing her as a despotic Queen expecting all others to bend to her every whim. This film isn't as far-reaching in scale as the other French Revolution pic as it centers on the Queen, her living quarters and a few of her closest servants leading up to the fall of the crown. The sense of forboding that permeates throughout the film is perhaps the film's best element. It is pretty to look at; but we feel the dread that will soon follow all of those onscreen ...
July 18, 2012
Edit 11/11/12: Y'know, I really don't like this film but at the same time I really do like it. I like it so much that it borders on obsession and I even like it in spite of its faults. I will retract one statement in which I said it doesn't have layers. It does. However, since I poured my blood and sweat on my initial review, I'll leave it up. Just wonder why I decided to recant some statements and raise my 2.5 star rating to 5 stars (simple answer: I'm obsessed with Marie Antoinette, too, even if I hated this movie. Praises and criticisms will always be with Marie Antoinette, I guess). Hey, I did the same last year with some far-worse movies. And later I'll put up another review to explain this sudden reversal.
(ORIGINAL REVIEW written Aug. 29, 2012):
A lite-Robert Altman film. Farewell, My Queen has a premise that may draw unsuspecting viewers in, such as myself, but below the juicy surface of the implied lesbian romance is a film that observes the monarch and servant structures of Versailles. It just happens to be set during the final months of Marie Antoinette (before she fled).

The protagonist is the Queen's reader Sidonie (Lea Seydoux) who scurries between two worlds and can't help but hear/see the latest gossip whether it's the oncoming rebellion or what the high-class people really think behind closed doors. She acts out her usual customs and the film makes sure we see every single detail cuz y'know, accuracy! Historians and sociologists may get a kick outta this. Sidonie is the Queen's reader, so she reads books and magazines aloud to a sometimes absent-minded Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger), who is capable of reading and writing herself, so why she needs a reader in the first place is a mystery. Boredom? Laziness? Luxury? Maybe just because she can. (fyi: Marie Antoinette wasn't dumb or illiterate). Over the course of whenever Sidonie was appointed "reader," she had developed a little crush on the Queen who herself seems to be in lesbians with her BFF Gabriele de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen). The suspense! Ehhh, not really.

Our reader is just that: an observer acting on behalf of the audience to catch a glimpse of 1789 France. Sidonie also loves her Queen and would do anything to please her as she repeatedly says. In addition to the observant approach, the fascination with Marie Antoinette grows not only by Sidonie, but also by the viewer. Quite a bummer that for a movie about Marie Antoinette there's hardly any Marie Antoinette to be found but I guess that's what makes her limited screen time valuable. But only if you, the viewer, is fascinated by Marie Antoinette and history. If not, then you're gonna have a bad time.

This film is a mixed bag and I can't help but think the late Robert Altman would've made a damn fine adaptation. Very few directors could show what he or she intended with a large group, especially one of this complex structure, while also delivering a good story. Altman was a master of such presentation. Yes, we know the differences between servants and higher class--Altman showed that in his brilliant Gosford Park (it was about British class but kinda similar)--so why did this movie or story need to be made? It hardly shows anything worthwhile and even for a fictional story it comes up short. Our reader just is not interesting. She reads outloud, she crushes hard on Marie Antoinette, and she hears the juiciest gossip but what does it all matter in the end? Rumors, gossip, and speculation only get validated. The audience is aware of the inevitable so it's like we're just waiting. Sidonie could've been like an 18th century Gossip Girl and jotting down all this stuff ("Welcome to the scandalous life of Versailles' elite")... and it's sad that I made that reference. Something, anything!

Alas, the Queen sits in her chambers, confused, frightened, lonely, and (again) absent-minded. The only time she lightens up is when Gabriele enters the picture but at that point we don't care except for that woozy camera during their alone time. Speaking of which, this movie has some bad camerawork and unnecessary shots that trail off like the cameraman was drunk/stoned and the editor got lazy. Fiction aside, the look of the film is a generic historical presentation. Looks nice but so what? Where's the story I was promised? Forget the "sophistication," this is a work of fiction so treat it like one! I'm sure Versailles had a lot more interesting stories and many could have been told; be a cool ensemble piece. Or embellish the main story more, but we're just reduced to a fly-on-the-wall approach by our bland reader with a schoolgirl crush but just pussyfoots around... Maybe that fits the story/author's own creative liberties. Hell, Sofia Coppola had gusto even when her film was more grounded in history. And how could they shove Marie Antoinette aside? The fascination only grows from her limited screentime. I myself am utterly fascinated by this historical figure. Too bad she's in short supply and instead we're spoonfed the life of Versailles in a nutshell.

We know from history what will happen as the film wraps up. Surprisingly, what happens to our lead and I guess Marie Antoinette still kinda rocks our core. But it's too late for us to care any longer. To sum up the film, it's the story about a nobody who becomes a nobody in the end. No juiciness, just a really bland attempt at educating the uninitiated. Sidonie is basically Mr. Peabody in disguise.

Farewell, My Queen is not a bad film but it's really an unnecessary one. It seems more rooted in history despite a fictional take, so there are good sets, good acting, good costumes. The observant angle isn't well done but what does intrigue me was the reader's fascination maybe because, again, I am also fascinated by the Queen. But even that mindset doesn't go as far as I'd hope it would because there's virtually no Marie Antoinette here nor lesbian stuff. Yeah, typical guy thinking. Anyone who thinks this film is sophisticated or buys into the "audience observing Versailles" take are only kidding themselves and believe me, I tried to like this film with that warped outlook but it fell apart. It's not that I don't find life at Versailles uninteresting; the movie just gave us a checklist. Maybe this is good for some people to watch just for that but there isn't enough. For a while I did think the movie's approach was interesting, like a behind the scenes of Versailles, but the story was flat and borrowed from better movies. It's a boring and uninspired thesis paper mixed with a boring and uninspired fiction story.

Stick to a Robert Altman movie (Gosford Park or Short Cuts) or Sofia Coppola's underappreciated Marie Antoinette. Even that film, as much as people hated it, has more layers than this flick.
½ July 28, 2012
No guillotines here; it seems the only real "slicing up" is with what truly happened back then. There are a surprising number of people who are convinced that Marie Antionette was gay...whoever penned this script must have not only believed it, but took it quite far into fantasyland...making a "Brokeback of Versailles" of sorts. And no, I'm not joking lol!

I'll give this film credit where it's due: visually, it's crazy gorgeous, I like Diane Kruger, and the quiet, suffocating (unrequited) longing by her lady-in-waiting was touching and sad. In life, there are few things more heartbreaking than witnessing the one you love pine away for someone else the same way you pine for them. Even as visually decadent as it is, it still doesn't scratch the surface of the pomp extravagance the real Antoinette loved to revel in. While I'm no history expert, I am a big fan of her & her story. The only thing people seem to remember about her is a quote she never really said and how she met her demise. Her fate was a perfect storm of gossip, politics, prejudice, greed (doesn't sound too far off from today, does it? lol). Except back in those days, one tiny bit of slander can snowball into literally ruining your life, and Antoinette's fate proved that nobility was no exception. These were days where there were no cell phone documentation, no transcripted recordings, no photographic evidence, not even fingerprints. One false witness, one open-ended rumor, ONE person whose favor you weren't granted (or whose favor you lost)could make the bottom of your life fall out, and that went double for women. And raise that to the nth degree if you were a woman of ROYALTY! Can you imagine how nerve-wrackingly SCARY it must've been to have to depend on winning the favor of strangers simply to earn your "right" to live as a functional member of society?

I suppose this movie is a nice story for those who DO indulge in the fantasy that Antionette was a star-crossed lover with another woman. Though some people believe she was gay, and at times it may appear so from her own pen, I am not convinced. I really do not believe she was gay. I believe there's more to it that's overlooked. Think about it: This poor girl's very reason of being in the French court was as a political pawn to secure good French/Austrian relations. Raised by a cold, distant, super-critical mother...her sister and only best friend, married off early by arrangement (while not even yet a teenager) , taken away from Antionette and was never to be seen or heard from again. Antoinette was then shipped off from her home of Austria to France (while not even yet 15) to be married to a timid, weak-willed, frigid (and allegedly impotent) prince who was more interested in hunting & hanging out with his brothers than being a husband, and she continued to live this way long after the King died & she became Queen. Add to the fact that Queendom separates you from human contact by several degrees except for servants which they're not allowed to interact with. That paints a picture of a SORELY lonely woman who might've clung a little too tightly to the notion of friendship (and yes, perhaps took a little too much liberty in comforting herself in material objects). Projecting her longing, not necessarily sexual, just for closeness, affection and compainionship onto the few people who were lucky enough to filter through the heiarchy of the noble houses just to GET to her AND win her favor/trust....

Closeness, affection & companionship, of which there was no source for her from anyone in her life. Not from her husband, never from her own family....she was literally the proverbial poor beautiful bird in a gilded cage. And for the early period of her reign (which led to the French people's unfavorable 1st impression of her), she was just a child locked in her room with no company but her toys. Antoinette was not necessarily longing for a female, but just...LONGING. To feel close to someone, emotionally, physically...Which, need I remind you, CAN be mutually exclusive from sexual feelings? It's so common how easily people take physical/emotional closeness and companionship for granted (me personally, those are all luxuries I learned to live without lol). And THAT RIGHT THERE is a HUGE irony this movie totally misses in favor of lesbian sensationalization: How Antionette, in the midst of all her comforts, luxuries & indulgences, suffers & starves in being denied one of the most essential of human needs: human closeness & affection. I think those who believe she is gay is just committing the sin of most modern Americans: reflexively sexualizing EVERYTHING. You can't even say the individual words "meat", "finger" ,"unit," "erect" "come" or even "member" anymore these days without getting a giggle or two...even from senior citizens!! Things have gotten THAT bad!!! Did you giggle at those words too? Then you just proved my point LOL!

So, when you consider this, and the scenario of Antionette's life that I described, I think it might lend light to your view that Antionette's "gayness" might have been a victim of the same presumptuous & premature sexualized conclusions. I believe the fact that she had a close companionship with a woman was more out of safety & convenience because...imagine how much more scandalous it would have been if her companions were male?? She would've lost her head much sooner, for sure! Common thought assumes it's "safer" to be seen with a woman, but alas, it's not scandal-proof. I really think her longing & needs were more innocent and it's US who are guilty by scandalizing & sensationalizing the conclusions....just as the French people did in their unofficial campaign to malign and eventually eliminate her. WE'RE the one guilty... in committing "dirty" thoughts in thinking the way we do about her, yet are holding HER guilty...when all she wanted was basically just to hold & be held. How sad. I really can't do her story justice, I don't have all the time or space needed to really show you...but then again, this painstakingly made big budget film didn't do her story much justice either *shrug* LOL! I guess you will just have to look her up & discover for yourself, if you really care to know. The "Diamond necklace affair" chapter alone will make your head spin lol.
February 25, 2015
Léa Seydoux does a wonderful job as Sidonie Laborde in this French film. Her eyes are soulful and watching, The action moves between the gilded drawing rooms of the nobles and to the back quarters for those that serve the king and queen.
August 6, 2015
A tense period drama with fitting performances from both Léa Seydoux and Diane Kruger as the queen's reader and Marie Antoinette, respectively.
½ May 29, 2015
I am so puzzled by the low viewer rating this film currently carries. Benoît Jacquot's study of the last few days before The French Revolution starts is astonishingly potent. Everything is seen through the eyes of one of Antoinette's ladies in waiting played brilliantly by Lea Seydoux. This is an intelligent, insightful and intense study of chaos brewing as the mob readies to take the "castle" --- masterfully crated from all perspectives.
½ January 10, 2015
Small and precious, about the last days of Versailles from the point of view of one of the many invisible women of history.
½ November 15, 2014
Farewell, My Queen is an excellent film. It is about a look at the relationship between Marie Antoinette and one of her readers during the first days of the French Revolution. Diane Kruger and Lea Seydoux give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. Benoit Jacquot did an alright job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. Farewell, My Queen is a must see.
August 22, 2014
Léa Seydoux is one of the most important French actors working and Benoît Jacquot has always seemed to have a gift for directing female actors. She is brilliant in the leading role. And, the film is absolutely fascinating to watch. Though historians may get a bit annoyed, this is historical fiction and it is done brilliantly. The film unspools the last days of Marie Antoinette's court and we see everything from the eyes of the servants. Beautifully shot and expertly edited, this is a great movie from start to finish.
July 22, 2014
Expecting all the grandeur of the Château de Versailles and then seeing mostly the rat-infested servant's quarters and bleak hallways is truly a disappointment for some. Yet it is Seydoux's character that fills these depths with rich melancholia in powerful contrast to the powder-faced men within the white and golden walls of the French royal residence.
May 22, 2014
This was boring to me.
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