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During our very first Snark Week, Kendra previewed The Moon and the Sun, a schlocky-looking upcoming flick about King Louis XIV, his illegitimate daughter, and a mermaid, starring Pierce Brosnan as the king. Well, the thing was delayed umpteen times and supposedly got a theatrical release in 2022 as The King’s Daughter and swiftly found its way to video and streaming. How could I resist?
Supposedly adapted from the fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre, this movie seems to kick much of that book to the curb, along with historical accuracy, historical costumes, subtle acting, and credibility. I suspect the target audience is 10-year-old girls because this thing is high on the pretty pretty princess scale with a cheezoid romantic (but not at all sexual) plot that has all the depth of a puddle of water. But grab your favorite cocktail because it’s pretty hilarious to watch with a buzz and call out the obvious plot points and guffaw at the silly costume choices! Oh Lizzy Gardiner, this shouldn’t bear so much resemblance to your fine work on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
Well let’s start at the very beginning, as they say … because there’s a fucking title card! And y’all should know my beef with those! Don’t say a movie is set in a certain year because I’m sure as hell gonna expect that the movie looks and acts like that specific year. Which this one totally does not.
This is all you really need to know about the plot, aside from the fictional daughter. I’ll get to her in a bit.
If you remember the preview post, you’re familiar with the romance-novel style that the supposed Sun King sports here:
But what really got me ROTFLMAO watching this movie was the extras, OMG the extras! The leads are dressed non-historically, sure, but the extras are over-the-top, fancy-pants wacky with a side of WTFrock. The guys wear a mishmash of 18th- and 19th-century rental stock with Hot Topic accessories, while the gals are in full David’s Bridal, Reign-wanna-be garb. But before I take a deep-dive into the hilarity, I give you this amuse bouche of a pair greeting the King in the Hall of Mirrors:
Y’know, I think a big problem with this movie is that they didn’t have any real budget for costuming. They shot their wad on this boat:
They spent too much on too many horses and carriages:
And they definitely wasted money on all the drone shots of Versailles:
There is one relatively historically accurate costume in the movie — the King’s nightshirt! He’s shown rising from bed several times (not exactly the formal grand lever ceremony, but then, it’s not filmed in a real room at Versailles either), and he wears this shirt:
When the King’s daughter, Marie-Josèphe D’Alembert (Kaya Scodelario), is brought to Versailles, neither she nor anyone but the King knows she’s his daughter. She just thinks she’s there to be a court musician, and then the King takes a shine to her. The rest of the court gawks at her like she’s a country bumpkin. Here’s Marie and the maid she’s been assigned, Magali (Crystal Clarke):
Now here’s the courtiers…
The main plot vaguely revolves around the King’s people capturing a mermaid so they can kill her and then the King will get her life force and become immortal eyeroll. Bingbing Fan is credited as the mermaid, but she has no dialog, just a musical/telepathic language that only Marie understands, and the few glimpses of the mermaid are so CGI-enhanced you can hardly tell who it is.
A side plot involves Jean-Michel Lintillac (Ben Lloyd-Hughes, the moon-faced guy from Sanditon seasons two and three) as a wealthy nobleman angling for the ear of the King, which he gets. The King grants him the title of duke and sets him up to marry Marie, whether she likes it or not. Smarmy Lintillac gets a wild wardrobe of his own:
Can’t forget about the ball that, I guess, is meant to be the centerpiece of the movie. But it doesn’t have quite as many bizarre extras to entertain me, just a few:
At the ball, the King dances with Marie, and they have a moment.
Finally, there’s Marie, the title character, who gets a comparatively tame costume collection by comparison.
The King has a big heart-to-heart with Marie, telling her about her true heritage.
And he gives her a miniature painting of her mother, Louise de La Vallière.
Do I even need to say that looks nothing like Louise de La Vallière? She was a real person, one of Louis XIV’s mistresses from 1661 to 1667, and she gave birth to five of his children, of which, a daughter and son survived infancy. After several more contentious years at court, Louise left in 1674 for a Carmelite convent where she spent the rest of her life as a nun.
Her eldest surviving child was Marie Anne de Bourbon (October 2, 1666 – May 3, 1739), who was legitimized by the King and raised at court. At age 13 in 1680, Marie was married to Louis-Armand I de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. She was widowed in 1685 and lived a successful and wealthy life until age 72.
Suffice it to say, this movie’s idea of “the King’s daughter” is nonsense! Much like the last few things we see Marie wear…
Did The King’s Daughter live up — or down — to expectations?