The way the visuals and music clashed in the first round of trailers for Marie Antoinette, in which the teenage Queen of France and her powdered wig- and silk brocade-wearing courtiers frolicked in the garden and played dice to the strains of New Order's "Ceremony," fell somewhere between being exciting and contrived. The full soundtrack to the movie -- all two discs and 90-odd minutes of it -- keeps this bold contrast, but gives it more nuance. In fact, its mix of new wave, post-punk, dream pop, electronica, and classical pieces really sells Sofia Coppola's vision of Marie Antoinette as an innocent young girl, transformed into her era's version of a hipster fashionista, who gets in way over (and ultimately loses) her head. The size of the soundtrack suggests the decadence of her times, but the way the music is actually used is far from indulgent. Disc one relies on new wave to illustrate the giddy rush of her rise, while disc two is mostly electronica and darker, more atmospheric classical pieces tracing her fall with a stylish, bittersweet atmosphere similar to the Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation soundtracks. "Hong Kong Garden" kicks off Marie Antoinette, beginning with a brief prelude that at first sounds like it escaped from A Chamber Music Tribute to Siouxsie Sioux but then sounds utterly right, and helps make the rest of the soundtrack's switches from pop to classical and back again sound inspired instead of forced; there's a lightness and playfulness in the new wave songs that connects them to Vivaldi's Concerto in G. Throughout the soundtrack, Bow Wow Wow seems to function as Marie Antoinette's voice: after all, "I Want Candy" isn't such a far cry from "let them eat cake," and on the second disc, "Fools Rush In" captures her plight perfectly. By working with a carefully selected palette of tracks by a handful of artists -- Air, Aphex Twin (whose "Jynweythek Ylow" has all the delicacy of chamber music), the Cure, and the Radio Dept. are among the chief sources -- Marie Antoinette's daring gambit pays off in a long but exquisitely curated soundtrack.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2