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Farewell, My Queen (2012)
Friday, July 13, 2012
Brief graphic nudity and language
Diane Kruger, Lea Seydoux, Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois, Noemie Lvovsky, Michel Robin, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Lolita Chammah, Vladimir Consigny, Dominique Reymond, Anne Benoit, Herve Pierre
Benoit Jacquot, Gilles Taurand, Chantel Thomas
A look at the relationship between Marie Antoinette and one of her readers during the final days of the French Revolution.
Farewell, My Queen (2012) | Review
A Somebody or a Nobody?
The action in this film is not in Paris, where the Revolution is reaching its height, but at the royal palace in Versailles. There we meet Sidonie Laborde, a young woman who serves as a reader for Marie Antoinette. Although a servant, Sidonie gets to experience a bit of the higher prestige that goes with living at Versailles. Indeed, we may sense that she feels very much at home in this environment, although we do not know her background. There seems to be a rapport between Sidonie and the Queen. Could it be that someone such as she could actually be a friend of the Queen?
There are earth-shattering events going on, and the people at Versailles are well aware of them, but the story in this film is of a more personal nature. It is about a relationship that Sidonie may think (or at least wants to think) has elevated her into a new status. But as the world outside the walls of Versailles is rapidly changing, what will that new status mean?
We also sense that Sidonie is a bit in love with Marie Antoinette. She may not have any expectations of becoming truly intimate with her, but she certainly basks in the reflected radiance of the Queen's presence. Even when Sidonie sees how attracted Marie Antoinette is to the Countess of Polignac (who was rumored to be the Queen's lover), Sidonie is flattered to be in the know.
It is only later that the Queen, through her actions, makes it clear just how little regard she has for Sidonie. When the Revolution becomes a real threat to the people at Versailles, the Queen asks Sidonie to do something that could well put her life at risk. Sidonie, out of love, responds positively, but we can see that for the Queen, there is no concern about Sidonie's well-being. After all, she is not as important (in the Queen's eyes) as others. Perhaps that disdain for those of lower social status is one of the causes of the Revolution in the first place.
For Sidonie, her life at Versailles has given her a chance to live like someone born to a higher status. She has enjoyed the perks that come with her position, but mostly she has enjoyed being somebody. Who will she be when no longer connected to Versailles and her Queen? On her way from Versailles, we hear her in voice over: "Soon I will be no one." How often a person's worth is seen to be tied to something other than their inherent value as a human being or a child of God.
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