Male Gender Expectaions
Coppola explores male gender roles in the film by comparing and contrasting male behaviors between Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) and his father Louis XV (Rip Torn). Louis XV displays behaviors of what the expectation of a macho man is early in the film opposed to how Louis XVI behaves. Louis XV exhibits more masculine traits, such as physical appearance and deeper voice, versus Louis XVI. Louis XV is more disheveled and rugged; whereas, his son is dressed more feminine and soft-spoken. Coppola elevates Louis XVI's feminine behaviors by comparing how each of them eats in different scenes. In the first scene, Louis XVI inquires about the status of the consummation between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (Kristen Dunst). He is sitting at a table full of food and he is aggressively eating his food. Moreover, he is holding his fork in an unconventional way, stabbing his food, and throwing his food in his mouth. His, mistress, Madame du Barry (Asia Argento) is standing behind him and is sexually groping him as he stabs his oysters and chews his food as if he has no table manners.
On the contrary, Louis XVI displays different eating behaviors. In the second scene, Louis XVI is eating his food in a more structured that comes across as more feminine. In addition, he is sitting properly next to Marie Antoinette with plenty of space between them. He gently cuts his food and eats in perfect and pristine position. Louis XVI speaks to Marie in a less aggressive tone and shows little interest in her at all, unlike his father, who does not shy away from public displays of affection toward Madame du Berry. These male gender differences between father and son contribute to unveiling Louis XVI's questionable sexual identity later in the film. Lastly, the food the men ate, in general, was considerably different from the men. It is important to recognize that the "what" Louis XVI eats is on par with the male expectation; however, it is the "how" he eats the food that indicates he is less masculine and more feminine. The men are carnivorous while the women are shown eating more beautiful and dainty pastries.