Telling someone that you care about that they’re no good at what they aspire to be is never an easy thing to do for the vast majority of us. You don’t want to hurt their egos, but you also don’t want to get their hopes up only to see them fail. While that makes for a difficult circumstance in real life, a movie predicated on that premise might actually work. As seen in Marguerite, that sort of awkward scenario lends itself best to the genre of comedy.
In 1921, the wealthy Marguerite Dumont (Catherine Frot) is just about ready to show off her musical talents to the world. Up until this point, she’s kept her aspirations to herself and the people who are around her. They all know she’s terrible, but they listen and sometimes pretend to be impressed with her. None of this has ever meant anything until a young journalist changes her perspective by writing a review about a “wonderful” performance he heard from her. Against the wishes of some, this encourages her to follow her dreams and put on a concert in front of a large crowd of curious strangers.
One feature that is a constant in Marguerite is the music. Since this is about a woman who is trying to sing, it should come as no surprise that this is an element that’s imperative to the film. What is a bit odd is that I can’t recall too many scenes where there isn’t some sort of music playing either in the background or in the foreground. It’s a nice touch that never feels overdone, and it keeps the positive flow consistent even when it’s the Mrs. Dumont herself performing a terrible rendition of a song.
Her singing is predictably an important part of not only the film itself, but the comedy as well. While it’s not unfunny, the comedy in Marguerite is more amusing than hilarious most of the time thanks to the tone that’s being utilized. A great deal of this amusement comes from Marguerite and her poorly developed musical skills. The other comes from the reactions that we get from the people who are forced to suffer by listening to her. Both of these blend to make the movie what it is in the end.
As far as the character herself, Mrs. Dumont has a charming nature about her that allows her to be presented from the beginning as a light hearted individual who isn’t necessarily hip to everything that’s taking place around her. While this lets viewers come to like and support her as a person, this is also what helps in moving the story along. In a sense, you can say that she is a large chunk of the film’s personality because of this. She’s in just about every scene and is ultimately the reason why it’s considered a comedy.
Aside from the main character, the other portion of the film’s persona comes from the covert battle between the people who seem to care for her and the people who appear to be only out for their own self-interest. While one can say that Marguerite carries the main part of the picture’s character, the back and forth seen here is essentially what the majority of the film is actually about. To an extent, one can say that she’s placed in the background emotionally as the rest of the cast as we’re asked to look deeper into their hearts than we are into hers.
To tell its story, Marguerite is divvied up into multiple chapters. Each of these chapters signify a different phase of the move toward prominence that the protagonist wants to attain through song. I can’t say that this is a necessary addition since what’s being presented follows a pretty straight line that is easy to keep up with, but it’s here and adds style to its overall presentation.
With Marguerite being what I consider to be a soft feature with smooth edges for the most part, it seems like a film that feeds the target audiences needs and desires when it comes to what they sometimes look to get out of a trip to the cinema. For those of you wanting to be entertained by an innocent and unique movie that offers an intimate atmosphere, you will most likely find this French comedy to be an enjoyable experience that’s meant to be watched in theaters.
Director: Xavier Giannoli
Film Length: 127 minutes
March 11, 2016 (U.S. Limited)
March 25, 2016 (U.S. Expanded)
Distributor: Cohen Media Group