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Farewell, My Queen

3.7 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Based on the best-selling novel by Chantal Thomas, Léa Seydoux stars as one of Marie Antoinette's(Diane Kruger) ladies-in-waiting, seemingly an innocent but quietly working her way into her mistress s special favors, until history tosses her fate onto a decidedly different path. With the action moving effortlessly from the gilded drawing rooms of the nobles to the back quarters of those who serve them, this is a period film at once accurate and sumptuous in its visual details and modern in its emotions.
Bonus Features: Onset interviews,Interview with Benoit Jacqout.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Léa Seydoux, Diane Kruger, Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois, Noemie Lvovsky
  • Directors: Benoit Jacquot
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • DVD Release Date: January 15, 2013
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009TT0BSE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,053 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

We have all wanted, at some point in our lives, to be a fly on the wall at a moment of historical significance. The fly - this time - is a servant to Queen Marie Antoinette played magically by Lea Seydoux. The entire film revolves around "her" point of view.

Sidonie Laborde reads books to the Queen and is summoned at all hours of night and day to respond to Marie Antoinette's whims. It is apparent that Sidonie, a naive girl, has a schoolgirl crush on the Queen but is emotionally hurt by the fact that her majesty is in thrall to another beautiful woman, la Duchess de Polignac. There is a telling scene where Sidonie opens the chamber of la Duchesse when the other is fast asleep and nude, and she examines the woman from almost a clinical perspective - trying to understand where is the charm? But the love triangle takes second place to the reality of the urgent news that the Bastille Prison has just been stormed by the people of Paris and its jailer mutilated by the mob. The very existence of the monarchy and the nobles is on the precipice.

The plot imagines three days in which the idea of revolution swims in the heads of the nobles and servants of Versailles; they realize that their carefully shut off existence is coming to an end and scramble to figure out a way to survive. Most act badly...full of self interest...or even disloyalty. Reluctantly, Sidonie Laborde accepts the request of the Queen to act as a decoy by getting dressed up as the Queen's lover and leaving the palace in a lavish carriage. The purpose of the order is to allow both Queen and her lover to escape safely. Some palace servants wisely warn Sidonie to refuse to be a decoy...since they fear their companion is going to be killed within the day.
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There was a subtle power to "Farewell, My Queen" that completely snuck up on me. I lead with this statement because I'm not often surprised by movies. As I was enjoying Benoit Jacquot's portrait of the last days of Marie Antoinette's court, I was admiring the staging, the performances, and the lush settings. Jacquot places everything through the eyes of one of Antoinette's ladies-in-waiting. As she catches glimpses of the court in turmoil and the escalating political tensions, so do the viewers. As it is constructed, I felt like a voyeur to the unfolding drama--a partner, of sorts, to the lead character. As such, "Farewell, My Queen" is less of a historical recounting of the events in question as it is a peek behind the curtain. This approach lends an unpredictability to a somewhat familiar subject. Even though I have seen dozens of dramatizations of Antoinette, this one seemed remarkably fresh as it was only peripherally about the central subject. It does, at times, seem remote but the emotional payoff is well worth waiting for.

Lea Seydoux plays Antoinette's reader. Devoted to her mistress, she sees only the best in the erratic noble. Many of the early scenes reveal the protocol and propriety expected within Versailles, and the daily routine of participating in court is well established in the serving classes. Seydoux, however, relishes every moment she gets to consort with the Queen. Wonderfully played by Diane Kruger, it is easy to see how her charms were captivating to the younger lady. Even as Seydoux's admiration borders on romantic love, she still supports the Queen's pursuit of another. Without big dramatic scenes, Seydoux quietly conveys an increasingly complex performance as she attempts to juggle the doom and chaos that are descending upon the house.
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Farewell My Queen (Les adieux à la reine), directed by Benoît Jacquot with a screenplay written by Jacquot and Gilles Taurand and adapted from the novel of the same name by Chantal Thomas, is something of a mixed bag. On the plus side, it shows an extraordinary attention to detail when it comes to recreating life as it was at Versailles at the time of the French Revolution, in everything from the sets and the costumes down to the court behavior and social structure. But on the minus side however, it moves at a near glacial pace at times and doesn't really make a connection with the audience, always feeling a level removed emotionally.

Set at Versailles (much of the film was actually shot in and on the palace grounds at the real Versailles) on the eve of the French Revolution, the film is centered around the perspective of a young royal servant named Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux) who serves as a reader to the Queen, Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger). But as the film shows, being the royal reader was actually more akin to being the royal radio, something for the Queen to half-listen to in the background as she does other things. Which makes the character of Sidonie ideal as a witness to the goings on at court - always there, in the background, but largely unnoticed by the royals and the aristocrats who move about her in the same space but not at the same level.

The film proceeds to follow life at the palace over the next few days as the Revolution unfolds elsewhere, remote at first but gradually intruding more and more as rumors begin to creep in and a growing sense of uncertainty starts to pervade the royal court. But there does not seem to be any coherent story arc and no exposition is given to help us put any of this into some kind of chronological context.
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