Paul is a sweet man-child, raised - and smothered - by his two eccentric aunts in Paris since the death of his parents when he was a toddler. Now thirty-three, he still does not speak. (He ...
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When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters--an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire--to rescue him.
Paul is a sweet man-child, raised - and smothered - by his two eccentric aunts in Paris since the death of his parents when he was a toddler. Now thirty-three, he still does not speak. (He does express himself through colorful suits that would challenge any Wes Anderson character in nerd chic.) Paul's aunts have only one dream for him: to win piano competitions. Although Paul practices dutifully, he remains unfulfilled until he submits to the interventions of his upstairs neighbor. Suitably named after the novelist, Madame Proust offers Paul a concoction that unlocks repressed memories from his childhood and awakens the most delightful of fantasies. Written by
Madame Proust helps Paul remember his childhood using madeleines dipped in herbal tea. Marcel Proust's most famous work, Remembrance of Things Past, begins with involuntary memory brought about the same way. See more »
The basic scenario for Sylvain Chomet's comedy-drama is reminiscent of that of SHINE (1994). A young man, the eponymous central character (Guillaume Goulx) in his early thirties demonstrates a higher-than-average talent for piano playing, but does not speak. Looked after by a pair of overbearing aunts (Bernadette Lafont, Hélène Vincent), he has little or no outlet for his talents. He discovers in the apartment below him an eccentric woman, Mme. Proust (Anne Le Ny), who administers a concoction to him, enabling him to indulge in fantasies as well as uncover the mysteries of his past.
The plot is a straightforward one, dramatizing the ways in which we often deal with trauma by repressing it. Attila Marcel's concoction is nothing more than a means by which he learns to reconnect with it. What happened might have been unpleasant, but in the end he has to learn how to deal with it. Mme. Proust eventually passes away, and the apartment is taken over by someone else; but the experience has proved cathartic.
What renders Chomet's film so entertaining are the settings, a series of suitable visual metaphors for the lives Marcel pursues. The apartment he shares with his aunts is perpetually spick-and- span: everything in the right place so that Attila can cope with life around him. The aunts believe that this is the best thing for him; as the film unfolds, we understand how they have imposed their will on him, as a way of compensating for their own spinsterhood. The seedy dance studio, where Attila plays the piano for young girls just beginning their careers, is both bare and impersonal; the only noteworthy item of furniture being the piano. This sums up the aridity of the young man's life; it's hardly surprising that he does not want to speak. And there is Mme. Proust's apartment, a positive riot of fauna and flora, with tatty furniture and a strange visitor M. Cuelho (Luis Rego) who always seems to be waking up from a trance. The confusion of her apartment expresses Attila's state of mind; it is only through the concoction that such confusions can be straightened out.
The film comes to a predictable conclusion as we discover precisely what happened to the young man's parents. Perhaps he does not need to take the concoction any more; he seems to be 'cured,' at least temporarily. But director Chomet suggests that, if he wanted to take it once more, there would be nothing wrong. Even though it might be comprised of illegal drugs, it has a beneficial effect in the end.
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