Farewell, My Queen

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Farewell, My Queen Movie Poster Image
Gripping, mature account of Marie Antoinette.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

The class system is clearly in effect, and the power dynamic has very damaging consequences. The ladies-in-waiting in the queen's court are treated somewhat well, but not that well.

Positive role models & representations

Sidonie is extremely loyal to her queen -- a feeling that, no surprise, isn't returned with as much fervor. Marie Antoinette is intense, capricious, and capable of both great acts of generosity and selfishness. She was also known for her material excesses, some of which is on display here.

Violence

The storming of the Bastille plays a role in the story, but it's more discussed than shown.

Sex

A woman is shown disrobing and stands naked for a short time, her entire body exposed. Another woman is seen asleep naked. Innuendoes and talk of sex. Furtive sexual relationships between both opposite- and same-sex couples.

Language

Infrequent swearing (in subtitles) includes the word "s--t." A man's anatomy is mentioned.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some period-accurate drinking of wine and liqueur.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Farewell, My Queen is a French-language historical drama (subtitled in English) about the events in the days leading up to the storming of the Bastille in 1789 -- notably Marie Antoinette's personal relationships with her ladies-in-waiting and special friend. Expect to feel a bit like a voyeur allowed behind the curtains to see a queen undone by the rapid shift in politics and dwelling on the imminent loss of an illicit relationship. There's some nudity (two women are shown naked, one while sleeping), relationships between both opposite- and same-sex couples, a bit of swearing, and deep chasms between social classes.

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What's the story?

Versailles, July 1789. The Bastille is being stormed. With the uprisings in the background, Queen Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) and her court are in a state of disarray trying to figure out how the future will unfold. The film follows the experiences of Sidonie Laborde (Lea Seydoux), the queen's personal reader, whose loyalty to the queen knows no bounds, even when she's asked to make a huge sacrifice. Her Majesty, meanwhile, is under scrutiny not just because of the extravagant royal way of life, but also for her friendships -- especially with the mysterious and scandalous Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen).

Is it any good?

Beautiful to look at and engrossing to watch, FAREWELL, MY QUEEN lures you in. It makes you feel as if you're being allowed into secret chambers, where royalty removes its regal mask, and humanity -- specifically, passion and yearning -- awaits. Kruger makes an interesting Marie Antoinette, at once tempestuous and tragic. But her wealth of feeling for Gabrielle de Polignac rings a little bit hollow; it's the movie's biggest flaw (there aren't many), considering that we're supposed to believe that she has risked so much for that friendship. More time is spent with Sidonie, who does, indeed, engross.

But the movie, as compelling as it is, feels like it has shorted everyone: the queen, Sidonie, Gabrielle. Even Louis XVI, for that matter. Ultimately it's a too-brisk run through some of France's most important days.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Marie Antoinette: Does she seem as flip and wasteful as some historians have made her out to be? Teens: What did you know about her before seeing Farewell, My Queen?

  • What keeps Sidonie loyal, given how the queen doesn't exactly feel the same toward her? For that matter, what drives the royal-and-royal-subject dynamic?

  • Discuss the affair at the heart of the film. Is it true? Do historians really know? How could you find out more?

Movie details

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