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Palace Coup


Much of the ridicule for Marie Antoinette at this year’s Cannes Film Festival was for its hodgepodge of acting styles and its alternation of period music and droning rock. The casting works surprisingly well. Although Schwartzman doesn’t show us much of Louis’s inner life (the script doesn’t help) and resorts to mugging, Torn does his randy-old-goat number (mugging of a higher order) to snorting perfection, Steve Coogan wrings every drop of irony out of an Austria-France liaison, and cheekily mismatched Shirley Henderson and Molly Shannon make a delicious pair of maiden aunts, English-tweety and Yankee-honking, respectively.

On the other hand, the music—New Order, Bow Wow Wow, Gang of Four—is mostly godawful. Did Coppola want to suggest that these royals are just, you know, like you and me? Maybe she did have too privileged an upbringing. Still, rich girls with domineering fathers must be allowed to go their own way. Let her make her own mistakes. Marvel as she grows.

The seventh installment in Michael Apted’s seven-year-itch documentary series, 49 Up, is profoundly different from the others. On the cusp of their half-century mark, Apted’s British subjects have accommodated themselves to what they were, what they are, and what they will be. Those who didn’t have children probably won’t; those who did have seen their nests emptied. As Apted skips among the men and women at ages 7, 14, etc., you see not just their waists expanding and skin relaxing, but the fading of the anger that once accompanied their broken dreams.

When the series began, the focus was on the determinism of class structure. Now there’s more about the pain of having to take public stock of one’s life every seven years. You can imagine Americans greeting cameras with joy, but these Brits would rather not be objects of pity and wonder or reflections of our own forgotten youth.

I promised myself to go as long as possible in reviewing Douglas McGrath’s Infamous, the story of Truman Capote and In Cold Blood, without mentioning a certain other movie that came out last year … but it’s no use. In the weeks since I’ve seen it, the two have become hopelessly muddled in my head. Capote is the one about Truman the damned soul, the real cold-blooded character. Infamous is the star-studded high- society comedy about Truman (here, Toby Jones) the high-on-the-hog actor in a world of actors, coming face to face with brutal reality. Neither movie gives you the whole picture, but it’s fun to see them both and rearrange the pieces in your head.

Marie Antoinette
Directed by Sofia Coppola. Sony Pictures. PG-13.

49 Up
Directed by Michael Apted. First Run Features. Not rated.

Directed by Douglas McGrath. Warner Independent Pictures. R.



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