Albert Valentin was the most promising (along with Clouzot) of the French directors during German Occupation.Like Clouzot's "le Corbeau" ,his film "la Vie de PLaisir" had problems after the Liberation.Whereas Clouzot could survive (and give us more masterpieces,two of which are currently in the IMDb top 250),Valentin almost gave up,and after two or three inconsequential works,contented himself with writing screenplays.
"Marie-Martine" was revolutionary :its form was completely new in 1943.Think of it!Three flashbacks ,which flout chronology ;the first one depicts recent events ,then the others are going backward in time .The construction of the movie is dazzling ,using different point of views ,and a lot of colorful supporting characters .Some kind of "puzzle of a downfall child" .But one should note ,that ,had the movie been chronologically edited ,it would have lost 75% of its appeal.French critic Jacques Lourcelles is not completely wrong when he writes that the structure was there to hide the triteness of the plot....But there are strong scenes (Marie-Martine and the mother superior) ,strong characters (Saturnin Fabre turns one of his best performances and his famous sentence "Tiens Ta Bougie....Droite!"=hold your candle...straight!" -repeated five times- has become one of the most celebrated lines of the French cinema ;some find sauciness in it),strong lines ("I wanted my goddaughter to be carefully taught so I put her in an orphanage") "Marie-Martine" although it had not the emotional power of "L'Entraineuse" was genuine experimental cinema and paved a reliable way for the next movie "la Vie de Plaisir" ,which was probably Valentin's peak.It is essential viewing for people interested in the evolution of the FRench cinema.
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