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|Index||16 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From correspondence I've had over the years it seems that there are roughly a dozen people who tend to follow my reviews here and they will know in what high esteem I hold Catherine Frot, not least for her versatility which allows her to move effortlessly from the pathetically ditzy neglected wife in Un Air de famille to the mother from hell in Vipere au poing with virtually any and everything in between. Her first love is the stage - indeed she made her name in the stage version of Un Air of famille, which earned her a Moliere, plus a Cesar when she replicated her role, complete with dog collar, on celluloid - and for three years she has neglected the cinema for the theatre - I myself was lucky enough to see her in the Ingrid Bergman role in Cactus Flower (Fleur de cactus in French) barely a week ago, but now she is back on the screen in what I can only describe as a tour de force; Marguerite is a wealthy socialite in 1920s Paris who has an all consuming love for opera, so much so that she loves nothing better than performing arias for her society friends in salons. The problem, tragedy may not be too strong a word, is that she is totally without vocal talent yet for reasons best known to themselves her friends conspire to keep this knowledge from her and applaud every note and even pen fine reviews. Although the story is fiction - there may be a reason the character is named Marguerite Dumont; the actress Margaret Dumont, was the foil for Grouch Marx in the majority of the Marx Brothers films and was also a wealthy society lady with delusions of grandeur - it is clearly based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins a wealthy American who also harboured the delusion that she was a world-class diva. Catherine Frot is outstanding and it may well be the finest performance she has given in the cinema, which is, of course, saying something. For some reason it appears that Meryl Streep is shooting very much the same story even as I write and this may well keep the Frot film off American - and possibly even UK - screens which would be unforgivable.
Marguerite Dupont seems to have it all great riches, a husband she
loves and a passion for music. On the inside she is striving for her
husband's attention and her love of singing gradually turns into an
obsession. She arranges private recitals and, with the help of some new
friends, who have dubious agenda, is training to step on the stage of
the real opera house. There's only one problem, however. Marguerite's
singing voice is terrible.
Placed in Paris of 1920 and inspired by the real life story of Florence Foster Jenkins, MARGUERITE is about a woman who would not let the truth to stand on the way of her desire to sing. Director Xavier Giannoli has a special interest in all things infamous. All his previous films examine the short distance between the infamy and fame and what one is capable of to step into the limelight. His Marguerite is an eccentric with a heart of gold, willfully portrayed by Catherine Frot, the actor whose status in France can only be compared with the one of Meryl Streep.
The movie is emotionally charged and finds a perfect balance between funny and sad. However it is a bit overloaded with characters and not every storyline finds a desirable resolution. With a lengthy running time, and multiple story arcs, MARGUERITE could become a perfect miniseries, which may happen in the future, considering the interest the directors have to Florence Foster Jenkins these days.
A little bit too long, but never boring, MARGUERITE is an exciting film that will hold your attention all the way through an achievement for any film these days. With an exceptional performance by Catherine Frot, the movie's character study is impeccable and the real reason to see this period drama gem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From a true story, you have here the tale of a pearl lost in a sea of mud. The mud of hypocrisy, lie and trickery. The tale of an eccentric and wealthy woman who is married to a rich business man who cheats her with a mistress. An eccentric lady played by the outstanding Catherine Frot who has only one dream in life: singing opera, recitals, not in front of wide audiences but circles of music lovers who fake to be her friends. Those "friends" who let her think she is a great singer whilst she sings totally FALSE. Here, the audience is also guilty to laugh at this poor naive woman. Me too laughed and I am ashamed of myself. It's a genuine sad, painful story, I assure you. Catherine Frot has never been better, she gives here a terrific performance. I also appreciated the black butler character whom we at first think of him that he is Frot's close friend and dedicated house keeper. But as the film continues it appears that his behaviour is rather weird, even disgusting. During all this powerful drama I thought of Mark Robson's THE HARDER THEY FALL; the only difference is that this old movie took place in the boxing business. But for the rest, it's the same scheme. Go to see this very good feature showing how a pure pearl got drowned into an ocean of mud. The human mud.
The comedy of manners is the weapon of choice for satirising the
wealthy and powerful. Its favourite target is vanity, like in the fairy
tale Emperor's New Clothes where a vain ruler is fooled into believing
that beautiful garments have been made for him only to display his
pompous nakedness for all to see. The narrative of Marguerite (2015) is
framed around this theme, except that instead of clothes the hapless
victim is encouraged to believe she has a beautiful voice. In her case,
the self-deception is less about vanity and more about her love of
singing and the inability to hear her own voice.
Marguerite is loosely based on the true story of American socialite Florence Foster Jenkins. This sumptuous art-house style French production portrays her as a wealthy and eccentric benefactor of the arts in 1920s Paris. She is easily manipulated by the flattery of others and obsessive about opera singing. She also loves her unfaithful and financially dependent husband who is incapable of telling her the truth about her voice and who always has an excuse for missing her recitals. Her friends and house staff protect her from the knowledge of how badly she sings in gratitude for her kindness and because she is a 'lovely lady'. The stakes are raised when Marguerite decides on a public recital where of course the audience cannot be stacked with grateful patrons. The resulting performance is a seat-squirming experience that fills both the on-screen theatre and your own cinema with painful laughter and vicarious embarrassment for someone who can be so cruel to music. The film itself becomes an operatic performance of pride's folly.
This could have been an unbearable story made worse by intolerable singing, but it works well as a comically sad tale about a gullible woman who wants desperately to believe she can create beauty with her voice. The filming, sets and costumes evoke the era with authenticity and French actress Catherine Frot's subtle performance balances the sublime with the ridiculous. Frot's wide-eyed trust in others is both endearing and engaging as she draws us into her make-believe world that borders on madness. Some truly beautiful operatic voices create a haunting background score that only accentuates the appalling noise that comes from Marguerite's voice box. Its an entertaining story but don't be surprised if you catch yourself asking "what is so funny about bad singing?" and feeling embarrassed for laughing at another person's delusions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Marguerite is inspired by the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a
rich woman who loves so much opera she thinks she is a great soprano.
And she sings in small salons or recital halls for a confidential
audience, getting good articles in musical publications, written by
friends of course.
Catherine Frot is the perfect actress to perform this naive and touching opera lover, unconscious of her lack of talent. She is just so natural that we have immediate sympathy for her. But not for her family circle who, in that weird situation, did not help her, especially her husband who deserts her and her butler who manipulates her "talent", everybody laughing around.
Some changes have been made from the true story : Florence is now Marguerite (maybe in reference at Marguerite Gautier? See the last part), and the end of her life was different. But it is a great vision of that pathetic situation.
There always have been art lovers who naively think they are genius, remember Ed Wood.
Just wait Stephen Frears version , with Meryl Streep in the role of Florence (whose other first name was Narcissa) ...
'Marguerite' was for me the most anticipated inclusion of the French
Film Festival touring Australia as I write this review. In part due to
the pithy and alluring plot line given in the booklet for the
screenings, and in part as Catherine Frot was freshly known to me since
seeing 'Haute Cusine' a couple of years back. I was really impressed
with the subtle but powerful presence of Ms Frot on screen. I've become
most enamored with the many wonderful actresses from France and this
film and performance has already put Catherine Frot into an award
winning position; confirming her long and distinguished career.
Rather than give away too much of the plot; i'd would prefer to sing the praises of the panoply of elements that make this movie so memorable and commendable. It is beautifully staged and executed, with a faithful commitment to the period and a skillfully cast ensemble of actors to back the leading lady. I was especially impressed with Congolese actor Denis Mpunga who lends such a solid and fascinating literal support as Marguerite's butler. Michel Fau steals every scene he is in as an overly hammy opera singer; and Andre Marcon manages to both represent and challenge the archetype of a philandering husband.
While the film does run long; a shade over 2 hours; for the most part it is compelling, intriguing, amusing, sad and thought provoking. How many movies can be described that way? There were moments where I was both laughing and crying; a result of powerful direction by Xavier Giannoli who also co-wrote the film, and of course the impeccable performance from Catherine Frot. There is enormous dignity that the actress conveys as well as a hapless and at times a quiet knowing which is hugely endearing and makes Marguerite neither a victim nor a focus for ridicule. La Frot has such cinematic presence and yet at times there is great stillness to the performance; and of course there is the full bodied musical pieces that anchor the film's structure and themes.
There is a majesty to the film cinematically; and despite a couple of plot strands hastily thrown in and not satisfyingly completed, there is a potency and cogency to the script and to the film's overall running time. I feel it will be one of my favorites of 2016.
Never mind the parallels other reviewers have given to the American
singer Florence Foster Jenkins. Director Xavier Giannoli has created a
marvelous story which is operatic in it's own right! "Marguerite" is
both funny and tragic as can be found in many classic operas. Catherine
Frot brings the character Marguerite to life in such a believable way
the viewer feels sorrow for her self imposed delusions on her ability
to sing and her inability to see how her husband uses her and her so
called society friends cater to her delusions even tho they themselves
are laughing behind her back.
Her devoted butler, Madelbos, sees her as she sees herself - a grand opera singer who has performed all the great operatic female roles to perfection. Thus all the care and detail he contributes in her costumes and photos of her as if she actually performed these roles. Since her husband avoids her Marguerite has placed life into Madelbos's hands. Enter the two young journalist who meet Marguerite by sneaking into her estate during a fancy party to raise funds for the War Orphans charity. These two young men are very involved with the post WWI avant-garde movement in Paris and they find Marguerite to be both anti-establishment and uproarious. They write a glowing but tongue-in-cheek review of her singing. She reads it and is so taken with these two young men she befriends them and they in-turn introduce her to the underground art movement in Paris at that time. These people accept her as a performance artist and take her to heart.
So now Marguerite finds herself in two worlds, 1. The established moneyed society which patronize her and 2. The avant-garde art underground youth art culture. She experiences happiness, ambition, and excitement. Of course all this comes crashing down around her and she breaks under the reality. Her husband learns the hard way that he really loves her but it is too late. Her butler Madelbos could see this eventual end and is prepared to capture this bitter sweet moment.
What a wonderful movie, story, vision, Xavier Giannoli has brought to the screen. A delight to see, maybe painful to hear at times, but your heart will ride with Marguerite through her highs and lows, and be broken along with her friends that believed in her.
Biographical films can be really good and intriguing when done well,
and there are a number of great ones out there as well as a few
There are better biopics overall than 'Marguerite', and there is a preference for 2016's 'Florence Foster Jenkins', also about a notoriously bad singer and one of my personal favourites of 2016. However, it is very much a winner with many fantastic things.
'Marguerite' does fall too much in mawkish and slightly heavy-handed melodrama in the final act, and the aspiring young singer subplot doesn't slot into place as much as it should. Same with a few of the characters, some more interesting and serving more purpose to the story than others.
However, 'Marguerite's' pros far outweigh the cons, and when the film is at its best it's very good indeed and often even better than that. It's lovingly filmed and lavishly staged with gorgeous settings, scenery, colours and costumes that capture the era brilliantly and evocatively. The music is magnificent even when it's butchered.
Xavier Giannoli clearly put a lot of thought into the direction and handles the themes and any tone shifts and the numerous sub-plots often very well indeed, succeeding in keeping the story compelling and not feeling cluttered or too stretched. The script is intelligent with an ideal balance of humour and pathos, the humour very funny and the pathos heart-rending.
Like with 'Florence Foster Jenkins', it is easy making this sort of character interesting or easy to sympathise with and oddly wanting them to succeed. 'Marguerite' actually does a great job with that. This is also largely down to the lead performance of Catherine Frot, which is truly superb and captivates the viewer throughout the length. The rest of the performances are also very impressive, but it's Frot who lives in the memory the most.
On the whole, lavish, intelligent and absorbing, Frot and the production values particularly coming off well. With a stronger final act and more consistently with a couple of the sub-plots and the characters it could have been a wonderful film instead of an overall very good one. 8/10 Bethany Cox
"Marguerite" (2015 release from France; 128 min.) brings the story,
"inspired by true events" we are reminded at the beginning of the film,
of socialite Marguerite Dumont. As the movie opens, it is "September,
1920", and we are at a private recital, with a goal of raising funds
for the was orphans. When Marguerite, who headlines and generously
sponsors the program at the same time, finally comes on, she sings....
completely off-key. Yet people clap and adore her. Why? To tell you
more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for
yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from French quality director Xavier Giannoli who previously brought us other high quality films like "When I Was A Singer" and "In the Beginning". Here he tackles a variation of "the emperor has no clothes" story. It is clear to anyone that Marguerite cannot hold a note, yes she gathers acclaim, be it because people think she is brave enough to do it, and/or because she is delusional, and/or because people want to remain in her good graces. When, in preparation for her first bi-scale public concert, her exasperated music teacher comments to Marguerite's husband "Who will throw the first stone?", that becomes the main point of the movie: will Marguerite be told the stone-cold truth or not? Catherine Frot brings a towering performance as Marguerite, and in fact won the French equivalent of the Best Actress Oscar for this (the movie was nominated for a BUNCH of Cezar Awards, including Best Film and Best Director). My only complaint is that at 2 hr. 10 min. the movie is a bit too long for its own good. I think that trimming 15-20 min. would've made for a tighter movie without losing any of the narrative. The "inspired by true events" line at the beginning in fact refers to New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, and coincidence or not, a movie about her, starring none other than Meryl Streep in the title role, is set for a release in US theaters in just a few months (August, I believe). I'll be interested in checking out that one too, to see how it compares with this.
"Marguerite" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended quite nicely, somewhat to my surprise. Maybe the fact that the Meryl Streep movie is coming out soon (and is already gathering buzz for Streep's supposedly stunning performance) has increased the interest in seeing the French movie version. Regardless, if you like classical music (of which there is a TON in the movie) and are up for a top-notch foreign movie with great performances, you cannot go wrong with this. "Marguerite" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Set in post World War l France, this film contains superb acting, very
able direction, and a most solid script. It's loosely based on the life
of American socialite and aspiring singer Florence Foster Jenkins.
Ironically, a British biopic of Jenkins recently came to theaters,
starring Meryl Streep and directed by Stephen Frears, which I have not
seen as yet, so I can't make any comparisons.
Here, Catherine Frot is sublime as Baroness Marguerite Dumont, who is uber rich, but her singing at her local Amadeus Club is terribly off-key yet no one will tell her, as they all have their own selfish reasons. Marguerite's head of household Madelbos (Denis Mpunga) holds back from her any bad reviews, yet shows her a glowing one from a newspaper writer (Sylvain Dieuaide), who also has his own agenda.
Marguerite really wants to win over the love of her husband (Andre Marcon) with her singing. but he's emotionally distant and is having an affair on the side. Things will build whereby Marguerite is convinced she can perform at a major recital hall, in Paris. She even hires a singing coach to help her, with Michael Fau giving a most wonderful portrayal as the coach. I won't write any spoilers how this event could have everything come to a head, instead allowing the viewer to witness it all for themselves.
Overall, films such as this, in my opinion, are not easy to bring to the screen effectively, but director and co-writer (with Marcia Romano) Xavier Giannoli does a fine job with it, buoyed by some terrific acting from the entire cast led by Frot.
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