Story

Austrian-born Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) is 14 years old and betrothed to 15-year-old Louis, heir to the French throne (Jason Schwartzmann). Marie’s mother (Marianne Faithfull) provides Marie with some insight into the differences between the Austrian and French courts. Marie is otherwise unprepared for her future life. She is taken by coach to the Austrian-French border and handed over to her chaperone, the Comtesse de Noailles (Judy Davis) to be transformed for her wedding. On the wedding night, the marriage is unconsummated because Louis appears oblivious to his sexual role.

For the next seven years, Marie is pressured to produce an heir but she has no success. She becomes lonely, confused and distraught, beginning to indulge in a decadent lifestyle involving gambling, drinking, infamous parties and frivolous spending. Before Marie can produce an heir, King Louis XV (Rip Torn) dies, elevating the Dauphin Louis and Marie to King and Queen of France. Marie’s brother arrives and explains the facts of life to Louis, after which Marie becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter.

Following the birth, Marie retreats to the countryside to raise her daughter in peace and tranquillity. She soon returns to her more decadent lifestyle and pursues a secret love affair with Count Fersen (Jamie Dorman). Sometime later, Marie gives birth to a second child, a boy, and gives France a long-awaited heir.

Marie becomes more and more unpopular with both the court and the masses. The Bastille is stormed by an angry mob, marking the beginning of the French revolution. Eventually the mob turns up at the palace. Marie, Louis and their children are taken away to their fates.

Themes

Sexual relationships; French revolution

Violence

There is infrequent low-level violence in this movie. For example:

  • Marie’s dog is forcefully taken from her, making her cry.
  • Louis and two of his friends are seen practising duelling with swords.
  • A simulated battle with model ships firing cannons is presented as entertainment.
  • Hundreds of angry people with flaming torches bang on the gates of the king’s palace.
  • Marie comes out onto a palace balcony and kneels before the angry mob. There are rumours that the mob is ‘here to kill the Queen’.
  • Marie and Louis are shown standing at the back of a room looking scared as they listen to the sounds of an angry mob. Louis stands protectively in front of Marie and their children. 
  • Several women are verbally spiteful, sarcastic and hurtful towards other women.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the scenes above, the scene in which Marie and her sister-in-law are depicted giving birth could disturb children under 8, although no graphic details are shown.

From 8-13

Apart from the scenes already listed, children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by scenes in this movie.
 
Over 13

It is unlikely that anything in this movie will scare or disturb children over the age of 13.

Sexual references

  • When the King of France is about to meet Marie he asks, ‘How is her bosom?’ Later he says, ‘It’s the first thing I look at’.
  • When Marie and Louis go to bed on their wedding night they are blessed by a priest and are told, ‘Good luck and good work’.
  • Someone reports to the King after Marie and Louis’s wedding night. Referring to their sexual relations, the character says, ‘Nothing happened, your majesty’.
  • A women says, ‘Her husband has been giving her some problems. He’s been spending far too much time with his stable boys’.
  • A husband says to his wife, ‘Madam, should we retire to make love all night? Four times wasn’t enough last night’.
  • Referring to the King’s mistress, someone comments, ‘That lady is here to give the King pleasure’.
  • Referring to the King’s mistress, Marie states, ‘She’s from a brothel and everybody knows’.
  • A doctor delicately asks Louis about his failure to produce an heir, saying, ‘Do you find your body responsive?’
  • In an intimate conversation about sexual relations, a women says to another, ‘Have you ever been with a Russian. He’s bossy’.
  • A conversation about the consummation of marriage refers to the women being ‘deflowered’.
  • Marie’s brother uses the imagery of keys and locks to talk to Louis about his sexual relations with Marie.
  • A character says, ‘It's better than being a whore’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie contains some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters drinks champagne in several scenes.
  • At a party, several women are clearly intoxicated, slurring their words, unstable, and walking on tables.
  • A group of party revellers, inlcuding Marie, pass around a pipe that probably has a drug of some type.
  • Women use what appears to be snuff.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • When Marie travels from Austria to France, she is stripped naked and then dressed in French clothes. The viewer sees her wearing only stockings, her bare back and her buttocks.
  • After her wedding night, Marie is dressed by several court ladies. Marie is depicted naked from the front and back, and covering her breasts with her arms and hands.
  • Marie is shown in a bath wearing a nightgown in white sheer cloth that clings to her when she gets out of the bath.
  • Lying on the King’s bed, his mistress is shown in her underwear acting and sounding like a cat. The King climbs on top of her and they kiss.
  • In a bedroom scene, Louis rolls on top of Marie who gasps and exclaims ‘Oh’.
  • At a masked ball, Marie flirts with a soldier.
  • Marie is shown lying on a bed holding a fan that covers her breasts and mid section. A man lies on top of her, the couple kiss, and rub hands over their bodies. Marie’s breasts are briefly in view.

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

Marie Antoinette is a period drama tailored to an adult audience and inspired by Antonia Fraser’s biography of the same name. It is a rather melancholy film that leaves much left unsaid.

The movie explores the notion that the arrogance, ignorance and a lack of empathy within aristocratic circles arose from isolation and greed. It also suggests that being wealthy does not necessarily lead to happiness or fulfilment.

You might like to talk with your child about the key values in this movie. These are that the important things in life are not necessarily money and possessions. Rather, it's more important to have a family that loves and cares for you, a spouse who is a true partner, and friends that support you through hard times.