Saturday, August 25, 2012

the price of pleasure

the queen & her beloved
what strikes me most about  benoit jacquot's farewell, my queen is the delicate play between the impending massive people's revolt and the tiny but emotionally charged detail of every day life in the court:  a beautifully embroidered dahlia, a precious clock, the rustle of brocade and hollow footfalls of a french heel against marble, cobblestone and wood.

the court is focused on attending to the indulgence of every physical and emotional whim of la reine, so focused that one sees how they could possibly not have realized what was imminently arriving at the gates of versailles.   the film catches you up so completely in the minutia of the baubles and minor intrigues of the sex lives of the courtly entourage that one sees how the queen and her attendants became confused about what the most important concerns were on july 14th, 1789:  the fact that the duchess de polignac was not as in love with the queen as the queen was with her, or the fact that both of their names appeared in the top three on the list of those who should be beheaded in the name of liberty.

on a sensory level, the movie is pure pleasure:  great music, gorgeous shadow and light, the skin of beautiful women caressed lovingly and a little creepily by the hand-held camera. as the neo-realists put their cameras at eye-level, jacquot holds his at décolletage level.  the ladies' oft heaving bosoms almost become characters in and of themselves


enjoy the girl on girl flirtations, the whispered french gossip, the tableaux layered against the giant poplars filmed on the grounds of versailles, the nightgowns and wigs, silk stockings and pewter dining ware.  watch the queen enjoy them.  watch the court enjoy her enjoyment of all things beautiful, sensuous, and decadent.

& maybe wonder, for just a second, if losing your head is a price worth paying for so much fun & drama.


  1. Lara,

    You've distilled the essence of great filmmaking and storytelling: we are all of more than one mind, so certainly the films we watch can be of more than mind as well, but too often they are not. It should be possible to be lost in the sensuality and beauty of court life while at the same time keeping an eye on the revolution. Plus girl on girl flirtation can't be a bad thing...

    But even more to the point is that a film like this hooks my heart, my balls, my dreams. Not our, my. The idea of film is to draw the individual viewer into a sympathetic state. Each of us believes we are or could be in that salon or that bedroom, and because of that we forget that the rich and sexy get that way on the backs of the poor and the ugly. We forget that if we lived in that era we'd be clawing at the carriage doors hoping to wring a pretty neck.

  2. thanks for this thoughtful response. i do hope i would be on the right side of the carriage door, and not inside balancing a giant powdered wig on my head.