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I've watched this movie twice now. It's really a very good film - but
it is not at all the film with Raimu and Pierre Fresnay.
Nor, I suspect, was Auteuil trying to replicate the earlier version. In the 1930s masterpiece, directed by Alexander Korda, the characters, though all very real, often border on caricature, at least the men. They are all very much bigger than life, starting with César, and including Panisse, Escartefigure, etc.
That's not the take Auteuil took here. His characters aren't exaggerated, though certainly very real. You see that especially in some of the famous set pieces, like the card game and the scene where César teaches Marcel how to make a mandarin-citron. The exaggeration that made those scenes so outlandish, and so funny, in the Korda movie is absent here here. The scenes are played in a much more realistic manner.
Sometimes that's a problem. Escartefigue really doesn't work as a normal human being. He just comes off as dull, nothing like the unforgettable masterpiece in the Korda film.
But for the others - César, Panisse, and Marius - this approach shows us Pagnol's plays in a different light, and certainly a valid one. You have to pay more attention to see what's going on, to appreciate the fine acting. But it's worth the effort.
This movie will certainly never replace the Korda film. But it offers another way of presenting these by now mythic characters, and for that I say thank you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I bow to no one in my admiration and respect for Daniel Auteuil as an actor and I'd be hard pushed to name a bad performance I've seen him deliver but with the best will in the world he is not Raimu but having said that no actor living or dead is/was withing at least three light years of Raimu so employing that criteria Auteuil is as good as any bargain-basement Raimu out there. Auteuil's remaking - writing/directing of the great Pagnol Marseilles trilogy is clearly a labor of love. Although born in Algeria he was brought up in the Midi, Pagnol's old stamping ground and his breakout role was as Ugolin in the remake of Pgnol's autobiographical Jean de Florette and Manon de source. He dipped his toe in the water a couple of years back when he took on another great Raimu role in a remake of Pagnol's Le Fille de puisatier, which he again directed and which was well received. Once again the resident tame critic at filmsdefraance proves he doesn't know his ass from third base when he speaks of Pagnol's three STAGE plays when in fact only Marius and Fanny were adapted from plays, the third part, Cesar, was written directly for the screen in the wake of the success of the first two parts. Auteuil has opted to give the role of Marius to a pretty boy rather than an actor as Pagnol did and Raphael Personnaz is a sort of Gallic John Derek and acts about as well as Derek. Her fares better with debutant Victoire Belezt as Fanny but the revelation of the film is Marie-Anne Chazal as Honorine, the mother of Fanny who delivers arguably the best performance in the film. Jean-Pierre Darroussin whilst no Charpin was an inspired choice for Panisse inasmuch as he is a regular in the repertory company of Robert Guideguian, who inherited the mantle of Pagnol and makes excellent films with a Marseilles setting. Clearly if the original - directed by Alexander Korda - were shown alongside this remake the original would win hands down but younger viewers who have not seen - and maybe not even heard of - the original will find lots to like here.
Sundrenched and redolent of Marseille and Southern France. A real delight but there is a slight puzzle here .... is Auteil setting this in some never-never land? The original dates from 1929, adapted for film two years later. There is no firm indication here of date at all .. the costumes hint at the 1920s or even earlier, the ships in the small port seem in fact 19th century, but characters in a café are dancing to music from the late 1950s. And over the end-titles comes the wonderful Charles Trenet singing a song he recorded in 1947! This is some amazing time-travelling... So the time and settings are all over the shop .. but the story is strong enough to withstand it. I hope the chronology gets sorted out by the time I get around to viewing Part Two, 'Fanny', of this Pagnol trilogy. It better gets sorted out fast .. I'm watching it tomorrow night.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The original version of the movie (made in 1931 and based on a play by Marcel Pagnol)told the tale of a teenage girl who is abandoned by her boyfriend when he runs off to sea and to adventures in southeast Asia; to avoid "dishonor" she resigns herself to marrying a rich old man. In the 21st century young men still dump their girlfriends, and young women still marry rich old men. But even in the 1930s, the talk of "dishonor" and the shame about premarital sex were probably rather quaint to more sophisticated viewers in France. In the remake, the quaintness of the feeling-tone overwhelms the charm and humor of the original, making the copy seem both painful and pointless. Why has Auteuil chosen to copy the movie, rather than making it come alive in new ways? The original was perfect in its own way, so what is gained by this colorized and recast new version? Auteuil's version of the bar owner cannot match the genius of Raimu's portrayal, and Personnaz as young Marius is disappointing. So the overall effect is of a kind of "wax museum" embalming rather than a lively revival.
Who does not know the trilogy of Marcel Pagnol? Who does not know Marius and Fanny as well the novels as movie of the same author for Marius and d Allégret for Fanny? In a decadent time, full of movies of free violence, full of empty movies, a space which expresses the vain character of our century, the support on sure values is also on the agenda because it establishes an existential relief and a good recommendation for our culture. Daniel Auteuil, a Big actor of the French cinema is the director of a proofreading of Marcel Pagnol, a success of the French cinema. He thus made two movies Marius and Fanny, two masterpieces. These new versions reach the level of the movie of Pagnol and overtake well the movie of Allégret while respecting character of these novels. Fanny is clearly better than Marius. We feel an evolution at the actors who reaches the excellence. We here is thus in Marseille of between two wars a city which has its charm and heroes who have a simple and often pure character. The dialogs are dense but thanks to their simplicity are accessible to everybody; nevertheless the level is raised brought up well and their contents carry solid values, even if sometimes they seem to us outmoded. In the fact which is happier? The man of our days or the person who corresponds to the characters of Marcel Pagnol? This is not a part of our critic, but the movie can remind us these questions. All the actors very well played in this movie, but we have to underline the presence of Daniel Auteuil and Jean-Pierre Daroussin who understood well the universe of Pagnol. A small defect: in spite of the efforts, even if the actors knew how to speak with the accent of Provence, is missing the intonation or the prosody to speak it. It is about a way of speaking melodious such as we find in Marcel's movie with beautiful images. The movie Marius constitutes a new proofreading of this work which corresponds to all that the warned spectator or not can expect from this work. Even if the proofreading of an older masterpiece is difficult, this realization is made a success well; because Daniel Auteuil respects Pagnol by recognizing his genius and he also respects his spectators
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