Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Review of Leslie Cottle's "Let Them Eat"

Let Them Eat (2006) starring Leslie Cottle and Mark Camacho is an independent film depicting the final hours of Marie-Antoinette. I would like to post a review by Tony Medley in the Tolucan Times, as well as links to another article here. The article and the review mention something about the Voice of God being a female, but when I watched the DVD it seemed to me to be the queen struggling with her own conscience. When my mom saw it, she understood the voice as being that of Marie-Antoinette's mother, or even that of Our Lady. I think it is open to interpretation. Anyway, it was refreshing to see someone in a film having a dark night of self-examination and self-confrontation, in this world where every sin is shrugged off as a psychological malaise.

What struck me most about Let Them Eat was Leslie's ability to become the condemned queen. Leslie is a gifted character actress; she puts herself into her performance heart and soul. She has portrayed Maria Callas among her other roles. She is also a poet and singer, a writer and director. The film is the product of her combined craftsmanship.

Leslie is a friend of mine and we have had long conversations about religion and Catholicism. She knows that I am a practicing Catholic. There are many things that we disagree about, such as past lives. However, I do not have to be in total agreement with a person in order to appreciate their art, or be their friend.
At The Movies by Tony Medley, November 15, 2006
Leslie Cottle's 43-minute DVD is a counterpoint to Sofia Coppola's grotesquely superficial biopic of the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. Unlike Coppola's beautifully filmed dirge, Cottle takes a more serious look at Marie's last days, segueing between Marie in her cell waiting execution and a modern day Bella, both played by Cottle, who feels she is Marie reincarnated and who is going through problems of her own. Voiced over most of the scenes is Cottle reading from her own poetry. Cottle's picture of Marie is clearly more accurate than the eye candy that Coppola presents, which was an embarrassment. At least Cottle captures Marie's fight with despair as she awaits her fate. Adding to the quality of the film is the score by Yacoub Moilim. Cottle not only plays Marie and Bella, but her voice also appears as God, who discourses with Marie throughout the film, explaining to her why she is meeting such a terrible fate. This connection with what was going on in France was sorely lacking in Coppola's frivolous picture of Marie. It was hard to believe that someone could spend the money Coppola spent on her film and not even touch on what was going on in France, why people hated Marie, and why she met her fate. In 43-minutes and a miniscule budget, Cottle brings a much clearer picture of why Marie found herself in such a terrible predicament. Another part of the DVD that sets it apart for me is that it shows the courage and relative calm with which Marie accepted her fate, something that is completely lacking in Coppola's treatment.
Read more reviews at www.tonymedley.com.

Leslie indeed captures the courage of the queen while in the pit of abandonment, as well as her tears and her forgiveness. It is a brief film and does not cover every detail, but the essence of the portrayal is heart-wrenching and true. Ultimately, it depicts the reality of death which we all must face.


wordsmith said...

Great film. The poetry in itself was awesome. Very spiritual!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, my husband and I listened to a CD of Leslie's poetic "spoken word" one evening at dinner and it was like listening to music.

Tony Medley said...

Ms. Vidal says in her introduction to my review, "The article and the review mention something about the Voice of God being a female, but when I watched the DVD it seemed to me to be the queen struggling with her own conscience."
I can understand that someone viewing the DVD cold could be confused as to the identity of the voice. However, I identified it as the "voice of God" because that's how the Production Notes for the DVD identifies it.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Tony, for the great review of Leslie's film. I appreciate the clarification. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

That's what I call a very good film. Hollywood should hire Leslie Cottle to make films, that's what I call very good business. Speaking of reincarnation, there's a book about it, about reincarnation of Marie Antoinette. Nice review and nice blog, thank you.