Farewell, My Queen is a Marie Antoinette tale told from the perspective of her reader. That means our main character, Sidonie (Léa Seydoux, Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol), is occasionally summoned to read to Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger, Inglorious Basterds) or suggest books for her, but she actually spends very little time in the queen’s company. The rest of the time she’s asking people what all the hubbub is about (the film takes place over the storming of the Bastille and a couple of days that follow), worshipping the queen from afar, or becoming jealous of the queen’s most revered friend (and secret lesbian love interest?) Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen, The Beach). Although this is a unique perspective from which to witness these events, it’s also a fairly mundane one. The opulence and frivolity that make Marie Antoinette so notorious are barely touched upon. We spend more of our time in the shabby rooms and dank passageways inhabited by the servants. Then when we are around Marie Antoinette she’s either very tense or weeping, understandably so, but it’s not the aspect of her character in which I’m interested.
The locations and costuming are very lovely, and it communicates a different side of Versailles than I’ve seen before, but most of the scenes seem to run overly long to the point where its not-quite two-hour runtime felt more like three and a half hours.
My personal opinion: Seydoux does a wonderful job as our determined servant protagonist, but I felt like I was watching the out-of-work cousin of a more successful and interesting movie.