Farewell, My Queen, Benoît Jacquot's upstairs-downstairs look at the last desperate gasps of the French monarchy, finds Léa Seydoux (who appeared in everything from Mysteries of Lisbon to Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol last year) as the underling and not-so-secret admirer of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger). Yes, it's a film oozing with sexual tension and willful subservience–not to mention power plays, brinkmanship and backdoor politicking–but more front and center is a certain visual moodiness that compels all on its own. The aesthetic is both lush and understated, dolled up and softly lit. A bevy of dead rats (some drowned, others just rotting) remind us that this is indeed the end of an era. Other set pieces–frequent candlelight, an intercepted list of 286 heads to be cut off–are just as darkly alluring. Innuendo is both sexual and historical here, with hushed, anxious lines, such as “I heard something about the Bastille,” being the servants' first clues to what's happening beyond the gates of Versailles. So immersive is this milieu that, by the time Seydoux realizes what's in store for her and her queen, we're almost as surprised as she is.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, July 31, 2012
- Critic's Score: B+
- Watch the trailer