Susan Granger reviews “Marie Antoinette”

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Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation” delved into themes of isolation but the disconnection in Barbie Goes to Versailles is sheer folly. The lonely, extravagant young Queen does little but acquire clothes and consume sweet confections. Clothes I can understand. She’s royalty. But eating all those delicious pastries, bon-bons and truffles and not gaining an ounce – that’s unforgivable.

Ah, the story. It should be dramatic but isn’t. To solidify an international alliance, 14 year-old Austrian archduchess Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) is dispatched to wed the teenage dauphin (Jason Schwartzman) who will became Louis XVI. But try as she might, for seven years, Marie can’t get her mumbling, bumbling husband to consummate their marriage – until he gets some sex education from Marie’s brother, the Emperor of Austria. Then children arrive, along with the Revolution. But don’t expect to see heads roll on the guillotine – the plot peters out before that.

Coppola draws a satiric parallel between coddled Marie’s delirious decadence and the excesses of today’s pampered, partying pop princesses – like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Perhaps that’s why she serves discordant rock music – like Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” – to accompany the costume drama and calorie consumption.

Sumptuously photographed by Lance Accord at Versailles and the Petit Trianon, it’s visually stunning, capturing the glittering, pompous opulence and Champagne-soaked gossip of the French court. But Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman are vacuous, expressionless ciphers in a baroque tableau – with caricature-like support from Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Asia Argento, Marianne Faithfull, Rose Byrne, Molly Shannon, Shirley Henderson and Jamie Dornan. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Marie Antoinette” is a lavish, fashionable 5 – if you’re fascinated by intricate shoes and towering coiffures.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.