Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette playfully tastes cake frosting off of her fingertip in the 2006 film

“Letting everyone down would be my greatest unhappiness.”

This film has been featured in an episode of my podcast about movies and mental health, Peculiar Picture Show!

Marie Antoinette, the person, is someone I didn’t know a whole lot about, aside from the fact that France beheaded her and she allegedly told peasants to eat cake when they had no bread. Marie Antoinette, the 2006 film by Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides), takes that vague historical figure and brings her to life, making her more human than a lot of fictional characters I see in film. Starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman, the humanity of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI really is the focus of this film. Antoinette especially is made relatable to viewers today, even if the film is not 100% historically accurate—a very conscious decision on Coppola’s part. This is a film that I didn’t fully appreciate until my second viewing, as the true depth of the film evaded me on my first viewing because I was expecting something very different. The film has some great things to say about gender norms and societal expectations that elevate this from a breezy biopic into intelligent social commentary that’s surprisingly relatable.

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Director Sofia Coppola

Director Sofia Coppola

“I try to just make what I want to make or what I would want to see. I try not to think about the audience too much.”

What does a director do to escape the shadow of her father who directed The Godfather? Her own thing. Sofia Coppola (1971-) is known for her art house films that delve into characters and emotions like no others. Her films, while brilliant, are admittedly not for everyone. And that’s alright, because films for everyone rarely reach as deep into emotions as hers do. She’s doing her own thing, and that means she’s making movies quite unlike anybody else is.

As I said, she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. She grew up on movie sets and actually appears in all three Godfather movies, including her infamous role in the third that helped steer her toward writing and directing and away from acting (which she admittedly never wanted to do). She gets the film medium and uses it to tell amazing stories that aren’t being told by anyone else.

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Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

“Let’s never come here again because it would never be as much fun.”

Lost in Translation, written and directed by Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette) and starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, is a hard movie to describe. It’s a strange mix of comedy, romance, and soul-searching without fully being about any of those things. The movie is beautiful and evokes strong feelings that are hard to pin down in words. Overall, it’s a journey, not a destination, but it’s a journey I’m very glad got recorded.

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