Despite what IMDb says, Marcel Pagnol did not direct this leaden drama, his brother René did. Still, Marcel Pagnol did evidently write the dialogues. And that is hard to believe. Or, rather, it is hard to believe that he chose to adapt this long and boring nineteenth-century bourgeois drama to the screen. His adaptation is probably no worse than the play, which I have not read in years and which I hope never to read again, but believe me, if you know Pagnol masterpieces like Marius and La Femme du boulanger, you will find no similarities with this leaden mess. The performances, particularly by the men, are fine, in that they do a good job of developing the characters. But the characters are all so uninteresting and unsympathetic that their acting skill does not help things any.
In two words, this is the story of a wealthy bourgeois who marries his only child, a daughter, to a penniless nobleman because he hopes to use his son-in-law to get a title (it takes place under the reign of king Louis Philippe, sometime between 1830-1848). The son-in-law is a lazy, affected stereotype; but M. Poirier is also a stereotype, of the obnoxious big businessman. The poor daughter, who falls in love with her husband, lets him walk all over her. In short, it is hard to imagine what audience Pagnol had in mind in the 1930s when he adapted this: who in France during the depression would have cared about any of these people?
So, if you are a Pagnol fan - and I certainly am - you can pass on this one. More's the shame he did not himself.
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