Interested in knowing what is in the head of Marie Antoinette as fate decrees that she will lose hers? Then, “Farewell My Queen” is the movie for you. When the Bastille falls on July, 14, 1789, the doomed/despised sovereign and cake connoisseur (Diane Kruger) is fretting over a lot of things: an embroidery of a rose, pictures in a fashion magazine, geographical map of a possible rescue route from Versailles to the border town of Metz.
We know this because the feckless monarch is assigning these multi-tasks to Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux), a worshipful young girl, whose main function is “reader” (being Austrian, the Queen of France can’t read French).
Though revolution is exploding outside the cloistered regal domain, the Queen’s overwhelming concern is the whereabouts of her lover, the Duchess Garbrielle de Polignac (Virginie Leyboyen), even though she is seen leaving the royal bedchamber just before Sidonie’s arrival.
Understandably, the Queen is out of her mind. Still, the film by writer/director Benoit Jacquot will have us believe that this is business as usual for Queen Marie. Worries of the rabble have not gotten inside the head that she is destined to lose.
What tension Jacquot does capture in these four fiery days (July 14 to 17, 1789) is racing through the court crew like Scarlet Fever. Particularly, when a pamphlet appears listing the order in which the royal sycophants will meet with Madame Guillotine.
That tension is extended in the Queen’s devious and desperate act to save her beloved Duchess.
The insanity is that she’s more fretful for her lover than for herself, her children, and certainly her people.
“Farewell My Queen” may be the best movie made about the waning moments of power of the infamous French queen.
Not so the selfish Antoinette.