In 2006, Juicy Couture, the clothes model synonymous with velour tracksuits, launched their first perfume. Immediately beloved by teen women, accessible at Walmart, Juicy Couture’s eponymous perfume smells like tropical punch with base notes of dessert tray (caramel, crème brûlée, and vanilla)—artificial aromas that choked highschool hallways for at the very least half a decade therefore. The print marketing campaign for the perfume options pastel hues, ribbons, puppies, and a rebellious rococo wardrobe. In it, a mannequin wears a towering, cotton sweet wig—as if she not solely smells however can be slowly turning into edible.
That very same yr, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette premiered on the Cannes Movie Pageant. Similarities between this historic-ish movie and the Juicy Couture advert marketing campaign are putting. Relying on who you speak to, Marie Antoinette is as empty as an empty bottle of fragrance, or as highly effective as a multi-million-dollar advert marketing campaign. What nobody argues over: the target market. Sofia Coppola makes movies for younger girls, serves them up like cake and laces the icing with dissent. Marie Antoinette could seem like it’s promoting one thing, however it’s pushing revolution.
Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) is 14 after we meet her, getting ready to maneuver from her native Austria to Versailles, to marry the French Dauphin, performed by Jason Schwartzman who, as at all times, seems concurrently adolescent and middle-aged. The primary and most merciless affront she receives from the French individuals is the confiscation if her pet pug, adopted by the indignity of being strip searched within the woods—all in preparation to be an almost-queen.
When Marie Antoinette arrives at Versailles and isn’t instantly a hit, it’s as a result of she just isn’t instantly pregnant. Her prince is clueless, additionally infantile—and the couple stays childless for a number of years. Within the meantime, Marie Antoinette develops hobbies exterior of wifehood: playing, buying, consuming cake. Right here she turns into the Marie Antoinette of caricature, frivolous, bored, extravagant. Every little thing that makes her reminiscence fodder for fragrance adverts 250 years sooner or later.
This, greater than French historical past, is what pursuits Coppola, the method by which a lady turns into a delusion. On some stage, this course of is identical as maturation. Typically known as a chronicler of younger womanhood, it’s extra correct to say Coppola is a chronicler of the myths of younger womanhood.
As a result of so many younger women are informed, by kids’s books or pop songs or dad and mom with poor style in pet names, that they’re princesses, Marie Antoinette just isn’t a historic movie however an allegorical one. The political clout of a princess is low and capabilities virtually wholly in backchannels and imperceptible ways, the extra invisible, the higher. Marie Antoinette finds her energy at court docket is gained and restrained virtually concurrently, an ideal allegory for the best way younger womanhood is directly exalted and preyed upon.
Coppola has at all times been preoccupied by the intersection between personhood and adulation: in The Virgin Suicides, we hear of the Lisbon sisters by means of the voices of boys who idolized them. Misplaced in Translation is about two individuals in love with, and in determined want of, the thought of one another.
In Someplace, a failed father determine can be a film star and, with reducing depth, the article of his daughter’s admiration. Marie Antoinette could also be primarily based on an historic determine, however it’s a movie extra involved with the everlasting downside of turning into a lady within the public sphere; the younger queen navigates a perplexing world through which guidelines are usually not identified till they’re damaged, as when she claps on the opera and finds its not customary. Acquainted terrain for anybody making their preliminary forays in to the ever-fraught realm of womanhood, or, extra loosely, maturity.
In some ways, Marie Antoinette was the urtext of the millennial aesthetic, the pink dream worlds of Petra Collins and Glossier. The imagery that took maintain of the favored consciousness across the movie’s launch was of candy-colored, virtually apocalyptic decadence. My favorite rumor about Marie Antoinette is that the colour scheme was impressed by Ladurée, the Parisian purveyor of macaroons. Ladurée is identify checked on Gossip Woman and precisely the kind of place an individual would go in the event that they had been 16 and visiting Paris for the primary time. Ladurée is stylish in the best way Juicy Couture is couture. That Coppola dressed her movie within the colours of self-conscious luxurious is deft, and in addition rebellious. Coppola is sensible sufficient to trend to know that macaroons and ribbons are gauche, however unique sufficient to embrace them anyway. An inclination to prioritize aesthetics is without doubt one of the most enduring criticisms of Coppola’s work, one thing she leans in to with Marie Antoinette.
Sofia Coppola has famously mentioned, “I feel you will be substantial and serious about frivolity.” Having to state one thing so apparent just isn’t solely annoying, however the crux of Coppola’s significance to a sure group of (largely) women. Particularly, these reaching womanhood and discovering that, to be taken critically, compromise is vital—attaining an ineffable steadiness between femininity and renouncing it. Marie Antoinette proposes another, hedonistic and frivolous as its anti-heroine. The movie is a toothache. The harmful, even defiant, potential of frivolity is the political message of a movie mentioned to include none. Marie Antoinette rebels towards her station by exaggerating the trimmings of it—a tactic that, whereas in all probability unconscious, is especially putting to viewers rising up in an period of Rookie journal and the brand new Teen Vogue, publications that champion an uncompromised combination of frivolity and substance.
Versailles was the final word gilded cage and Coppola’s sympathies lie together with her title character, a lady burdened with luxurious however extremely restricted choices. Marie Antoinette bedecked herself within the symbols of her personal entrapment—was reviled and, ultimately, killed for it. In Coppola’s palms, the chain of occasions is doomed and sadly related. The catch-22 of being a princess or a lady is identical: one is predicted to defer and, later, scorned for being detached. In such circumstances, who wouldn’t purchase footwear and get their hair completed, fake to be a peasant, gamble? Right here, existence is as precarious as a champagne tower.
The movie’s remaining shot is of a trashed bed room, chandelier on the bottom. It seems the aftermath of a tremendous occasion, we all know it was a riot.