For most, this would breed a sort of skepticism as to the quality of the film, but for me it implies that the director is merely being self-indulgent; a quality I admire, but one that inspires ire in most other film critics. I was excited to see "Marie Antoinette" for this reason, and for much of the film, I let it get away with far more than I should have. I kept thinking that the reason it was going nowhere was to eventually blindside the audience with something that they can't possibly see coming. This never happens.
In fact, when something actually important happens to Antoinette, the film sidesteps it almost entirely, and for reasons I can not possibly understand. Example..? At one point in the film, one of Antoinette's children dies tragically young. But not only do we not see the death, or the effects that it has on the family, but we are not even privy to meeting the child in the first place. In fact, the first two thirds of the picture meditate on Antoinette's young party years, and the sexual problems she has with her betrothed king (perhaps important things in their own right, but to take up that much time?). The uprising descent to the monarchy in France, her children, and her eventual death seem crammed into the last half hour as though they are meaningless events.
Okay, someone may fire back. But perhaps Coppola wants us to get know Antoinette on a personal level, and maybe these historical details are minor compared to what she wants to achieve. I ask the question furthermore then, what better way to get know someone then to see them in every situation, good and bad; events of high importance and ones of little consequence.
I am reminded of the structure of a film called "The Station Agent". I questioned it at first, despite being moderately entertained throughout, and then in the final scene of the film when all of the characters are sitting together and joking casually I realized that the director (Tom McCarthy) really just wanted his audience to get to know his characters. By that point I realized that I had grown to know them, and also grown to like them. Throughout the course of the picture the characters go through different degrees of hardship, and let down barriers, and get drunk, and by the end we have seen many different sides of them. "Marie Antoinette" does not allow its audience to see these different sides, and when the King and Queen are to be beheaded at the end of the film, we feel indifferent. We shouldn't.