Director(s): Xavier Giannoli
Countries: France, Czech Republic & Belgium
Main actor(s)/actress(es): Catherine Frot, Michel Fau, André Marcon
Summary: Marguerie Dumont (Catherine Frot) is a very wealthy woman who lives in Paris in the twenties. Her whole life revolves around music and opera. She organises charity events, recitals, goes to see fabulous shows, collects pretty much anything related to the world of music but most importantly loves singing. There is only one problem ... she is absolutely terrible at it but nobody ever told her, and even worse, people praised her and her friends and family have protected her for all her life. However, this will prove very problematic when she decides to rent a concert venue to sing in front of hundreds of people.
I was very enthusiastic to watch this critically-acclaimed movie. For those of you who might not be familiar with this film, it received four Césars (French equivalent to the Oscars) as well as a Prix Lumières for best actress. Moreover, the hype around it was quite important as another movie came out featuring Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins, 2016) around the same character. No need to say that my expectations were rather high and ... I was not disappointed at all.
When one first watches the trailer, Marguerite might appear as your typical French comedy but as the video goes on the dramatic tension and very moving protagonist destabilises all the audience's expectations. Mixing drama and comedy can be tricky and finding the right balance often proves more than dangerous but Xavier Giannoli is a very skilful and talented director. In a lengthy interview featured on the DVD he explains his choices in terms of cinematography, light, images, colours and camera lenses; which once more shows how multifaceted, complex and balanced this work is.
The main protagonist, Marguerite Dumont, is exceptionally delightful and Catherine Frot's rendering of this deluded and yet deeply moving, naive and child-like socialite is spot on. Based both on Florence Foster Jenkins and Margaret Dumont, Marguerite is completely fascinated by the world of music and dedicated her whole life to it. Alongside a very lonely relationship with her husband and secluded life (or at least surrounded by people more interested in her money than herself), music has always been a getaway and a breath of fresh air. This is sublimely rendered on screen but also through the music which is carefully selected and perfectly accompanies as well as reflects what is going on in Marguerite's life.
To conclude, as well as a very funny movie, the topics of cruelty and lies are central to this work and the people watching will often be left with conflicting thoughts and feelings about the unfolding events. Whilst the secondary characters might not be all necessary or well thought-out (e.g. Hazel and Lucien Beaumont), Marguerite still has to be one the best movies of 2015 and in recent years. If you want an original, moving, heartwarming, carefully imagined movie, please do not waste another minute and watch Giannoli's latest work!
Une chanson = a song
Un spectacle = a show
Chanter = to sing
Une récompense = an award
Une scène = a stage