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'Farewell, My Queen' intoxicates: Kenneth Turan's film pick

July 19, 2012|By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
  • Carole Bethuel / Cohen Media Group
Carole Bethuel / Cohen Media Group (m31zl8pd20120719150200/600 )

"Farewell, My Queen" offers an intoxicating opportunity to eavesdrop on history, to be a fly on the wall at the great palace at Versailles as an old order starts its slow-motion collapse into the dustbin of history.

As directed by France's veteran Benoit Jacquot, "Farewell, My Queen" has a potent emotional component as well, involving the tangled emotional lives of three beautiful women: Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger), the queen in question; Sidonie Laborde (Lea Seydoux), the monarch's worshipful young servant, and Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen), the queen's special favorite.

Though these actresses are strong, what's as compelling as the personal drama is the film's masterful sense of time and place, the way it makes us feel that this was how it was during four pivotal July days in 1789 as the wheels came off the French monarchy.

-- Kenneth Turan

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