With no backstory, Kirsten Dunst (Austrian Marie) is married off to the prince of France, Jason “the director’s cousin” Schwartzmann. The two of them soon come to bigtime power when king Rip Torn dies, and run around doing whatever they like. Jason sure doesn’t want any sex with Kirsten, but finally agrees to consummate in order to get everyone off his back about an heir. Kirsten lazes around, has at least one affair and two baby heirs, and ends up with her own custom-made house in a custom-made garden with all her friends and fancy fancy food and clothes. Meanwhile, people in France are poor and angry and something is happening with Austria but nobody cares about that until it’s way too late and the people are storming the castle and beheading people.
Kirsten’s always seeming totally out of her element as an actress finally works for the part, as Marie is an awkward princess who becomes an awkward queen, then once she realizes she can do anything, runs around doing anything. The movie sort of lets her off the hook, because really, she knew hardly anything about her position and had no reason at all to try and find out more. The king apparently had policy meetings but they were kept simple and short (and both of the ones they showed us involved sending money to America, maybe Sofia’s little rebuke for the freedom-fries thing).
Who else? Molly Shannon from SNL is a snippy friend with a possibly fake nose, Asia Argento is King Rip Torn’s slutty & improper (natch) girlfriend, and Alan “Steve Coogan” Partridge is Queen Marie’s ambassador to her family and/in Austria.
Beautiful scenery, clothing, sets, everything… nice low-light photography. Kirsten Dunst is pretty. Fine idea, this whole showing off Marie’s life from inside, as if she’s just a carefree teen who won a neverending shopping spree at the mall. Nicely paced, as Katy says, slow but purposefully so, following Marie’s languorous lifestyle. But the movie never gets around to proving itself necessary or rewarding me for watching it, besides the odd beautiful shot or good use of a Bjork song as mood music. Feels somewhat flat, though I can’t point at just why. Double Life of Veronique a few days later confirmed the feeling… Marie is missing something big. If I knew what it was missing, I suppose I’d be writing this someplace other than here. Katy liked the movie pretty well but feared the hype.