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Farewell My Queen

Film & TV

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Diane Kruger is the latest in a long line of femme fatales to corset up and heave herself into the role of the much-vilified Marie Antoinette, queen of all she surveys in the fast-falling court of Versailles.

It is July 1789, the eve of the storming of the Bastille. The queen’s reader, Sidonie, voluptuously portrayed by Léa Seydoux, refuses to believe that her queen will be overthrown, remaining passionately devout to the bitter finale. Sidonie is in love with Marie Antoinette, while the queen herself is engaged in a passionate affair with the equally stunning Duchess de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen).

Amid the cleavages and affairs and tittle-tattle of the squalid last days of Versailles, as the nobles flee and the savages sharpen the guillotine, Marie packs jewels and weeps over the Duchess while the ever-stoic Sidonie dashes hither and dither, her cheeks enflamed with unrequited lust. Summoned by her queen, Sidonie is handed the dubious honour of accompanying the fleeing Duchess and instructed to act as her decoy – not quite the romantic end she was after, but soon-to-be-beheaded queens can be awfully precocious.

Skilfully manipulated by acclaimed director Benoit Jacquot, with extreme costumes and a grandiose setting, this is one of those historical romances that side-steps the clichéd re-enactment with a certain panache and a lot of tainted flesh.

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