Farewell, My Queen: Diane Kruger on her new "lesbian Marie Antoinette movie" (NSFW trailer included)
The panic that engulfed Versailles in the early days of the French Revolution is captured from a murky side angle in "Farewell, My Queen," a well-observed but emotionally muted costume drama that might well have been titled "My Week With Marie Antoinette."
Pivoting on the queen's relationship with one of her most devoted courtiers, Benoit Jacquot's venom-tipped account of palatial intrigue and royal oblivion scrupulously maintains a servant's-eye view, looking at history from the perspective of a maid with a talent for embroidery.
As adapted by Jacquot and Gilles Taurant from Chantal Thomas' 2002 historical fiction, this French-Spanish co-production filters its momentous events through a realist prism, operating within a tight timeframe -- July 14-17, 1789 -- and adhering to the unspoken requirement that Lea Seydoux's protagonist be present in nearly every scene. These ground rules allow for a partial, fragmented view of events while effectively conveying the whirlwind of confusion and gossipy sense of schadenfreude buzzing in the corridors of Versailles before the regime's collapse.
Diane Kruger plays Marie Antoinette in the film, but here the interpretation of the French Queen is coloured by the suggestion of a passionate same-sex relationship with real-life friend and courtier Mme Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen). How far does Kruger believe that relationship went?
"I don’t know. I've got to be honest with you. I think it doesn't matter because she was certainly the favorite of the Queen. They met at a masked ball so Gabrielle didn't know she was meeting Marie Antoinette and I think they just connected on a level, whether or not you call it love or lesbian. I don't know if they were ever physical but... if you live in a world where you felt so isolated and alone, and you have a person, whether a woman or a man, who you think loves you for who you are rather then the Queen you are, then that is a very, very powerful relationship," she explained. "You know I think it's only because our notions of two women being that affectionate with each other has, in our world, a sexual connotation but I'm not sure that it was. It doesn't really matter. I think they are very close, I think Marie Antoinette felt very close to her. And that is documented."
A new twist on a familiar story or not, Kruger was well aware of the pitfalls of portraying a historical figure who has has so many previous onscreen iterations.
"The perception of Marie Antoinette is already so established. That's the danger of playing a historical figure because people have an opinion about her and have already judged her... [from] movies that have been made about her," she said. "You can clearly see that [Sofia Coppola] was fascinated with Marie Antoinette and that she very much was of the opinion that she was unjustly done by. For this movie it was irrelevant what I thought about it. I wanted to connect to her on a human basis... I wanted her to be more complex than just the symbol of what people think Marie Antoinette is or was."
But if the actress hoped, in some way, to extract Marie Antoinette from her retrospective historical context, that's not to say she was unaware of the story's potential for contemporary resonance. "I think any revolution starts by the same problems, right? It's people in power that abuse that power and lock themselves in ivory towers and forget what the real people are going through and have no sense of reality, right? So the French revolution started like that and, and I think what's happening today started like that, and so it is very resonant."
The role presented her with some unique challenges, however, not least of which was the language, as "Farewell, My Queen" was filmed entirely in French. "Even though I speak French, I never learned French in school and this is 18th century French, which is only comparable to Shakespearean English. It took me sometimes two weeks to learn one scene and then, you know, learn it and then forget about it and actually be able to perform it."
But far outweighing the challenges were the parallels between herself and the French Queen, which made her "a good cast for Marie Antoinette":
"She was from Austria, which then was Germany, [and I am German]. She arrived in France very young, just as I did -- not knowing the language... I'm about the same age as Marie Antoinette. The movie takes place July 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th and I'm born July 15th and my mom's name is Marie Therese [also Marie Antoinette's mother's name]. So, I don't believe in fate, but it was kind of weird."
Perhaps the fates did align, as IndieWire.com identified Kruger's performance as one of the film's highlights. She may not be the central character, but her lesser screen time belies the impact of her arc.
"I think that the script was beautifully crafted. The first scene you see her as most people would assume she was, you know, very aloof, frivolous, doesn't have a care in the world, worrying about her dresses. But then you also see her very vulnerable and very real and then you see her become the Queen at the end of the day. She's quite extreme. She's a little borderline. I think she was a little crazy at the end, you know?"
Sources - IndieWire.com, Variety.com
Watch: French NSFW Trailer & 2 Clips From 'Farewell, My Queen' Starring Diane Kruger & Lea Seydoux
You can imagine the boardroom pitch can't you? "It's the story of Marie Antoinette... but with some girl on girl action." Well, according to our review at Berlinale 2012, the introduction of lesbianism into the tale of France's tragic queen is to no great effect. In fact, the verdict was that it was "overwrought and strangely lacking in drama, staggering under the deadening weight of an uninvolving central character." Well, now comes the chance to start forming your own opinions after taking a look at a NSFW trailer and two clips from the film starring Diane Kruger, Lea Seydoux and Virginie Ledoyen.
Oh, there's just one small problem though -- they're all in French. If you speak French then you're in luck... but if not, then why not join me in looking at the pretty sets and costumes. If all you're here for is a bit of lesbian action then sadly you're not in luck either, but there are some breasts to ogle at that will satisfy your cravings.
Benoit Jacquot's film hits French theatres on March 21st, but no news yet on U.S. distribution. Take a look below. . . .
The Official Trailer:
Preview Clip #1:
Preview Clip #2:
Source - IndieWire.com