Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Marius

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Reviews - Marius


Reviewed By Chris Coombes

The Spring season of the Keswick Film Club opened last Sunday with "Marius" – a French film directed by and starring Daniel Auteuil and based on a story by Marcel Pagnol.

The story is set mainly in the waterfront bar owned by César (played by Auteuil). His son, Marius works in the bar. Fanny, Marius' friend since childhood, works nearby selling cockles. Marius secretly wants to travel, as a seaman, to exotic places. His aspiration becomes clear when a rich, older man proposes to Fanny, and Marius finds himself jealous. Fanny confesses that she loves Marius prompting him to tell her that he wants to travel the world. Fanny's mother discovers that the lovers have slept together, and she conspires with César to convince Marius to marry Fanny. Marius becomes melancholy after proposing to Fanny until a few days later, the date of departure of a boat on which Marius was supposed to crew. Fanny, understanding that Marius is not truly happy being with her, encourages him to leave. She distracts his father while Marius leaves for the boat.

Thus this simple, and yet strangely complicated and at times frustrating narrative unfolds; a classic tale of thwarted love that we can all recognize.I was perplexed by "Marius" – particularly given my expectations of Keswick Film Club offerings. This was a film that was so unchallenging that it was a challenge. I felt as if I had gone to a restaurant to have an interesting 3 course meal and been offered only a sweet, light, fluffy pudding. But then, I love puddings, as do lots of people. Certainly my impression was that the majority of the audience thoroughly enjoyed this film, and will be eagerly anticipating the next part of the trilogy, Fanny, to be shown 30th March.

The acting throughout is superb. Daniel Auteil is particularly watchable and funny, and the relationship between César and Marius is touching and affecting, if a long way from anything I recognize as reality. The film is gorgeously shot, with loving attention paid to stylistic detail, and some wonderful seascapes that help us to understand Marius' yearnings; how he longs to escape the claustrophobia of the love that supports him so that he can see the world before it is too late.

Ralph Personnaz and Victoire Belezy are perfect as our young lovers as we watch each do battle with their demons whilst trying to be as decent as they possibly can be in their own respective ways. There are some lovely set pieces and comic moments delivered with great style by the older members of the cast. A water-front scene reminded me strongly of nothing less than Oklahoma or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, so steeped was it in the musical traditional but without the singing and dancing!!

I understood this film better when I realized that it is based on a theatre script written by Pagnol in 1931. It is nostalgic, sweet and very beautiful and, presumably, lodged firmly in a particular genre that others will know more about than I do.

In spite of myself I fell in love with the characters in "Marius", and I will be one of the many looking forward to the next chapter of this pathos-infused saga; will they, won't they? Will she, won't she? More pudding please!

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

Since then, the club has won Film Society Of The Year and awards for Best Programme four times and Best Website twice.

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