Film in review: “Farewell, My Queen” (“Les Adieux a la Reine”)

A true “art house” movie is one where the actors are not necessarily American celebrities, so that they can truly be identified with the characters they play. You don’t have any idea where the plot is going, because it’s not subscribing to one of the tried-and-true Hollywood formulas. It might be in a foreign language, and then you have to put up with the subtitles, which distracts your visual enjoyment, but enhances your sense of being in a different world. And it might be re-enacting an historical event which would seem obscure to most American audiences.

“Farewell, My Queen” (“Les Adieux a la Reine”) is a French film about the latter days of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger, actually a German citizen who speaks English and French as well), told from the standpoint of Sidonie (Lea Seydoux), a very loyal chambermaid and “reader” to the Queen, who knows little about what’s happening outside the castle, but hears persistent rumors from wizened old royal advisers. The puzzled and beleaguered royal staff alternates between performing their servant duties as usual and speculating about the great social upheavals happening right outside their walls. The peasants are storming the Bastille. The insurrectionists are insisting on an audience with the King. The royal family is planning to flee. This might be the end of the world as they know it. And, ironically, it was the success of the American Revolution that fanned the flames of the French revolt against their monarchy.

A careful reading of Jesus’ teachings about the coming end times (especially in Matthew 24 & 25) would prepare the believer for the perspective that things as we know it are rapidly drawing to a close, and the new order is approaching, and we’d best watch, and try to prepare ourselves, because the change is going to come. It’s a prospect that is both unsettling and exciting, but either way, it will be a new world. So it is in “Farewell, My Queen.”

Ronald P. Salfen is minister of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving,

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