“Farewell, My Queen”
Mark Metcalf compares the new film, "Farewell, My Queen" to the British television series "Downton Abbey." The film opens tonight at the Oriental Theatre.
Farewell, My Queen stars Lea Seydoux and Diane Kruger. It was directed by Benoit Jacquot. It’s Downton Abbey, only French, set in Versailles during the early days of the French Revolution, which raises the stakes considerably for the people who live upstairs. Seydoux plays the Queen’s favorite “reader.” Queens had people to read to them. Marie Antoinette could read herself but she liked to have someone else do the reading. I think she just wants someone to hang out with. And manipulate. Kruger plays the Queen.
Because they are limited to two hours instead of several seasons, the filmmakers are not able to develop character as richly as they do in Downton Abbey–except in the case of Kruger. She manages to bring more nuance to the Queen than just attractively filling out the lush costumes, which would have been easy. So much emphasis is put on ambiance rather than what could have been an interesting story about the dependency of the upper classes on their servants when the masters are about to lose their literal heads and the loyalty of the people downstairs, the servants, is lost.
Farewell, My Queen opens at the Oriental Theatre on Friday, Sept. 7.