Lesbians are cool. Farewell, My Queen, a movie about Marie Antoinette’s lesbian tendencies, is not so cool.
Translated from French, Farewell, My Queen promised to be a new perspective on the French Revolution, with a glimpse into the relationship between Marie Antoinette and the duchess Gabrielle de Polignac.
While the film keeps this promise, it fails to exceed any expectations and remains a name in the blur of films that can be described as nothing more than all right.
What is needed is a balance—an adequate representation of both lesbianism and history—and for the sake of viewers, this film needs more lesbians.
The sexual tension between Marie Antionette (Diane Kruger) and the duchess (Virginie Ledoyen) is just that: sexual tension. And the most graphic display of their love consists of Kruger rubbing her nose all over the side of Ledoyen’s face so that she may “take in the smell of her youth.”
Certainly, the film raises expectations with the viewers—I mean, French lesbians and revolting citizens—what more could audiences want? But these expectations ultimately fall short of the reality of the movie.
The promised new perspective of the French Revolution is somewhat represented, but nothing that proves ground-breakingly interesting.
There’s the queen, the king, the Marquis, the servants and everyone in distress, yada yada yada…. But there’s no real insight other than the characterization of the sympathetic protagonist, Sidonie Laborde.
Staying true to history could have at least brought out some interesting facts or concepts. Instead, there’s a lot of unnecessary running by women and men—nearly all of whom are attractive, may I add—in the face of dangers we’ve surely learned about in school or some area in our lives.
But hey, maybe they just do things differently in France.
One aspect of many French films is the portrayal of the ordinary, and that certainly proves itself a grand part of Farewell, My Queen. The movie, in its entirety, seems like a snippet from the life of Laborde, the reader for Marie Antoinette on whom the movie focuses.
Realism certainly seems to be the theme of the film, and it’s obvious that the actors put in the necessary work to make it real. In fact, the acting in the film is something completely unworthy of criticism.
Kruger proves a fine Marie Antoinette, and her pompous portrayal is captivating. It is often forgettable that she is acting, a feat commendable when yours truly—acting critic extraordinaire—is in the audience.
Léa Seydoux, who also played Gabrielle in Midnight in Paris, excels in her portrayal of Laborde, bringing a poorly ambitioned character to life, and it’s hard to believe Laborde could be perceived as even a tad sympathetic without a babe like Seydoux playing the role.
The other actors do well. They come, they go, and they proceed with the rest of their fancy French lives, but without a balance of “want to know” and “ought to know,” the film suffers as borderline dry and mediocre.