History can truly be interpreted in so many ways from so many vantage points. Available today on DVD and Blu-Ray are the final days of an empire through the eyes of one loyal servant. It's time to say "Farewell, My Queen".
Co-Written and Directed by Benoit Jacquot
Based on the bestselling novel by Chantal Thomas we are transported to 1789 France in the final days before the outbreak of the Revolution. However, Versailles carries on carefree and unconcerned by the increasing turmoil in Paris a distance away. When news about the storming of the Bastille reaches the Court most aristocrats and servants end up deserting the Palace, as they fear that the government s failing. Sidonie Laborde (Seydoux) a young servant who is the Queen's reader refuses to flee because she feels secure under the protection of the of the Royal Family but little does she these are the last three days that she'll be spending by the Queen's (Kruger) side.
While this is a story that has been told before and we are all familiar with, co-writer/director Benoit Jacquot really puts inside the palace walls giving us a tragic and occasionally saucy look at what it must of been like as the protocols, the politics and the pleasures all come crumbling around this doomed monarchy. Jacquot keeps the visuals and the action very tight as every scene and every expression between characters either in a well lit banquet hall or a dim hallway in the middle of the night felt intensely personal as everything these characters new began to drift away. Jacquot rightly kept this story about the people in the palace and less about the drama outside its walls and it came through with some excellent performances.
North American audiences will recognize Lea Seydoux from the most recent Mission Impossible film as well as Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" does a fine job as the obedient yet curious beyond her station lady in waiting who reads to the queen at her request day or night. She loves the queen, it's all she knows until those above her station begin to plan their lives and things slowly fall apart. Her performance is a masterful balance of savvy yet still naive, and it works incredibly well. Diane Kruger is just wonderful as Marie Antoinette playing it emotionally unbalanced, obsessed and self-involved, she makes the role her own playing it for sympathy at the right moments and flat out despicable and clueless in others.
Special features on the DVD include Interviews, a talk with Benoit Jacquot and New York Film Festival Kent Jones discuss "Farewell, My Queen" and the theatrical trailer.
"Farewell, My Queen" ultimately isn't a splashy period piece, but it has a rarified quiet power to it that will sneak up on you while watching this story unfold before your eyes.
4 out of 5 stars.