Farewell, My Queen (GMT)
Rated R for brief graphic nudity and language.
Starring Léa Seydoux, Diane Kruger, Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois, Grégory Gadebois, Francis Leplay, Noémie Lvovsky, Vladimir Consigny, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Michel Robin, Lolita Chammah, Marthe Caufman, Jacques Boudet, Martine Chevallier, Grégory Gadebois, Jacques Nolot, Serge Renko, Anne Benoît, Dominique Reymond, Sibertin-Blanc, Jacques Herlin.
Written by Benoît Jacquot, Gilles Taurand and Chantal Thomas, based on the novel Les adieux à la reine by Chantal Thomas.
Directed by Benoît Jacquot.
Ah, the French. Such great art, culture and beauty, yet so much dark political history - mostly from the bloody French Revolution, which ended with the beheading of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antionette. The queen has been the subject of many books and films over the years, including this week's release of Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux à la reine).
It's a story told from the view of Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux) a "reader" for Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) in the days surrounding the infamous storming of the Bastille, a touchstone event that many see as the beginning of the French Revolution of 1789. Being a "reader" is sort of like having your own personal "Siri," or someone to read everything that interests you out loud. Sidone enjoys her assignment and has become enamored with Antoinette, even though the queen pines for another woman, Duchess Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen).
As news of the Bastille incident spreads throughout Versailles, tensions among royal title holders increase, as those in servitude to the aristocracy must decide whether to remain loyal to their masters or join the hordes seeking to oust the upper class.
Much of the film centers around three days in which Antoinette grows more desperate and frantic as to how she can survive and keep her lover safe. The queen relies on Sidone keeps her feelings for the queen secret even up until the moment Antoinette asks her to perform a very risky task.
Farewell My Queen is a film with great visual scenery, costumes and two outstanding performances from Seydoux (many will remember her as the beautiful assassin in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) and Kruger (most will remember her as the romantic lead in the National Treasure movies). Kruger's performance effectively captures doomed queen to perfection and exhibits the kind of desperation one might have as they realize masses want her head. Seydoux's beauty and screen presence capture every scene she's in.
Despite the beauty and performances of Farewell, My Queen, the story isn't that enthralling as it weaves in and out of a few days, introducing characters without context and pretty much ignoring most of the significant events of the French Revolution.
It should be noted that the lesbian theme of Farewell, My Queen is a fabrication and a product of Chantal Thomas' novel by the same name. Such fantasy is most likely based on a host of unfounded sexual rumors about Antoinette that led to her famous beheading. As such, Farewell, My Queen should not not be seen as any kind of historical representation, other than the dates and timing of revolution.