The complicated relationship between French Queen Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger), her adoring reader Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) who would do anything for her and the mysterious Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen) of whom much gossiping has been made of and a woman many assume to be the Queen clandestine lover. Adapted from the book by Chantal Thomas.
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my original theatrical review:
“Based on the book by Chantal Thomas, Farewell, My Queen showcases acclaimed director Benoît Jacquot (A Single Girl) at the height of his powers. The movie is propelled forward as if by some mysterious energizing force, electrifying every moment with a sinister menace that’s always held just off-screen, as if on the periphery of the frame. Seen through Sidonie's beautiful eyes, her soulful gaze slowly moves from wonderment to adoration to blind faith to sad, mournful understanding with shocking ease. There is a heart-stopping breathlessness to her journey, beyond intimate, beyond visceral, the all-consuming passions tearing a person, a country, apart on full display.
I loved the first hour of this movie. I was struck by both Seydoux’s and Kruger’s performances, discovered I couldn’t take my eyes off either of them. Both actresses, the former in particular, manage to eviscerate their characters in a way that feels vibrant and alive. Seydoux travels down many interior boulevards, heads to silent plateaus where revelation or surprise isn’t so much showcased in words but in the eyes, with her motions, making her final onscreen moments a powerful, tearfully wrenching saga of triumph and tragedy that stopped my breath.
There are issues. At just over 90 minutes, the film itself for whatever reason feels far too short for its own good. The final sequences rush by, Antoinette’s request to Sidonie having a fantastic impact that’s sadly somewhat lessened as horse is connected to buggy and carriage begins to travel down an uncertain road. Her final revelations, while powerful, don’t resonate as fully as they might have had Gabrielle de Polignac been built up as more than something other than an ethereal enigma, had it felt like Sidonie’s decision been something more than a forgone conclusion. The last scenes just sort of happen, there’s not any other way to describe them, and the only reason they have the impact that they do is entirely thanks to the breadth and scope of Seydoux’s stunning performance.
That these issues end up not mattering as much as they probably should have is both a testament to the two actors at the heart of the drama as well as to Jacquot’s supremely confident skills behind the camera. Farewell, My Queen presents a side of the French Revolution I can’t say I’d pondered before, a look behind the gates of Versailles I couldn’t help but become enamored with. There is truth and honesty to be found in all the debauchery and excess, Sidonie’s journey one where the heart rules the action yet where the head ultimately ends up seeing things for as they truly are.”
It’s weird to feel that a movie is too short, but that’s exactly how I feel about Farewell, My Queen. Magnificently acted, beautifully directed by Jacquot and filled with incredible moments, watching it for a second time I was struck by just how disjointed some of the dramatic elements ultimately proved to be. If any movie needed an extra 20 or so minutes it is this one, the fact of which admittedly has me more than a wee bit flummoxed.
Be that as it may, Farewell, My Queen is still a fascinating spectacle well worthy of a watch. The performances, as I’ve already stated, are universally stunning and Jacquot’s direction is as confidently assured as ever. Not nearly as excellent as it potentially could have been, the movie is still a strong one, and fans of quality international cinema owe it to themselves to give it a look.
Farewell, My Queen is presented on a single-layer 25GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.35:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features a French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and contains optional English subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Benoit Jacquot and Kent Jones Discuss Farewell, My Queen (20:28)
· Cast & Crew Interviews (22:26)
· Original Theatrical Trailer (2:34)
Not a lot, and sadly none of it, even the Jacquot/Jones interview, goes nearly as in-depth inside the production as I was hoping it would. Still, both that featurette as well as the interview segments are still well worth watching, the cast and crew piece just for the behind-the-scenes footage alone.
Farewell, My Queen isn’t the movie it could have been, Jacquot oddly so intent on brevity some of the dramatics end up coming frustratingly short. At the same time, the movie is mesmerizing at times, filled with superb performances and moments the jump right off the screen. The Blu-ray looks and sounds terrific, and by and large fans of the film will not be disappointed one bit with this hi-def presentation.