A dark tale of working-class life in Marseilles, a city in crisis. Interesting characters include a hard-bitten but compassionate fish market worker with a drug addicted daughter and a ...
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A dark tale of working-class life in Marseilles, a city in crisis. Interesting characters include a hard-bitten but compassionate fish market worker with a drug addicted daughter and a moody bartender with a shocking secret life.Written by
For a lot of cine buffs ,Marseille evokes the Pagnol Trilogy "Marius" ("Marius et Jeanette,get it?) "Cesar" and "Fanny".But be here now.This is 2000,no longer the thirties."La ville est tranquille" is a thoroughly contemporary movie,the despair of which sometimes recalling such works as "Rosetta".
Actually,it recalls in its form,Julien Duvivier's work,his movies made up of sketches particularly "sous le ciel de Paris"(1952) when all the subplots came together in an almost seamless whole.And as for despair
,Duvivier's movies were pessimism flesh on the bone. Guédiguian's story is more realist,more loachesque ,less melodramatic maybe less storybook or lyrical too.But that does not make a great difference:Duvivier and Kenneth Loach are influences every director can be proud of.
The backbone of "la ville est tranquille" (what an euphemism!) is a mother's struggle with her daughter's addiction,filmed with a realism hard to match.This is an absurd fight,because she's alone -she goes as far as prostituting herself to buy drugs-and because she actually helps her daughter in her fall.
But there are a lot of subplots,most of them as absorbing as the main story :sometimes they interfere with it .The taxi driver sequences,for instance ,do not seem to have a lot to do with it,but after a while a strong connection appears.And before the meeting,we already know the character:a man who 's not found a woman who's got what it takes,he's an old bachelor whose father and mother are longing to see him settled down.these parents are the only characters that have got something of Marcel Pagnol,they are definitely people of the past,not only because they are old,but because class struggle which they championed has become a thing of the past:the sequence in the taxi when the driver sings Pottier's "l'Internationale" in several languages is revealing for that matter.
Mini subplots give the movie substance:a meeting with a disquieting far right leader has a strong contemporary feel:"we like the Aliens,but we do prefer the French (of French extraction).Only the bourgeois couple and its sentimental -and intellectual - problems are irrelevant.
spoilers spoilers spoilers "La ville est tranquille" manages to give the audience a good dose of optimism though.one of the opening shots a young boy playing the piano in order to buy one :he's an Alien too and this vision is almost surrealist.At the very end of the movie ,when the audience seems to have lost any hope,a truck brings the piano to the child prodigy who begins to play.Then a crowd (of rejected?) gathers and ,for a while ,forgets all about its burden. end of spoilers
If there had been any doubts ,this movie finally and firmly placed R.Guédiguian among the greatest,most ambitious directors contemporary French cinema has produced.
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