I watched two films today.
Directed by Sofia Coppola, Marie Antoinette stars Kirsten Dunst as the French monarch. This is the type of historical drama in which you know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s like the Titanic sinking. You know it’s coming and you enjoy it even more because of it. Marie Antoinette starts with the title character leaving her home in the Austrian court to be married off to the son of Louis XV. You know that later in the story, the Bastille will be stormed, the royal family will be taken prisoner, and eventually, both she and her husband will be victims of the guillotine. Before the French people decide that the monarchy has to go, it’s all prologue. Sure it’s somewhat interesting, but you know where the story is headed and you’re looking forward to it.
At least I was looking forward to seeing how they dealt with the event unfolding around them. I was disappointed, however. Coppola decided that the film was going to end before the storming of the Bastille. The royal family leaves the palace at Versailles, looking at the grounds out the carriage windows, and the credits roll. I couldn’t believe it.
With the disappointing ending and the dragging middle, I’d recommend you take a pass on this one.
Happily, Sorry, Wrong Number saved the movie day for me. Barbara Stanwyck is a rich but sick woman, confined to her bed. One evening, her husband, Burt Lancaster, is inexplicably late. She becomes more and more agitated as she’s unable to reach him. Calling his office again, she experiences some sort of technical problem and overhears a call between two men planning a woman’s murder to occur at 11:15 that night. As she tries to stop this from happening, things spiral out of control.
This 1948 film does share some features of Hitchcock’s 1954 film, Rear Window, but in many ways, they’re different animals. Most of the story is presented in the form of flashbacks, and at one point, a flashback contained another flashback! As awkward as this may sound, it all came together very well.
In a sense, this film also has an element of “you know what’s going to happen.” Rather than known historical events, it’s simply not difficult to guess what’s going to happen at the end of the film very early in the presentation. If I can see it coming, it’s pretty clear. Happily, this did nothing to interfere with my enjoyment of the journey to the end I was expecting.
If you’re in the mood for a film-noir mystery, Sorry, Wrong Number is a treat.