Film review: ‘Farewell, My Queen’
Wed, Aug 15, 2012 (6:11 p.m.)
Just as theater directors like to try to enliven Shakespeare for jaded audiences by setting his plays in novel contexts (World War II, present-day Manhattan, etc.), filmmakers often approach major historical events from an unexpected vantage point, in the hope that a different angle will shed new light. Adapted from a novel by Chantal Thomas, Farewell, My Queen depicts the first few days of the French Revolution through the eyes of a young servant girl (Léa Seydoux) who oversees the personal library of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger). The result is handsomely appointed but strangely inert, with Seydoux, who can be gloriously inexpressive in the right role (she played the French assassin in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol), never conveying much more than star-struck devotion to a doomed idol. Director Benoît Jacquot provides a credible sense of the anxious mood among Versailles’ chattering class, but that can’t fill the dramatic void.