Marguerite Review - An Enchanting Off Key Comedy

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Marguerite, from Cohen Media Group and Fidelite Films, brings to the screen Paris in the 1920’s, the combination of French aristocracy and bourgeoisie, the artist and the lover, desire for self-determination and the courage to live.

Directed and written by Xavier Giannoli, Marguerite stars Catherine Frot as the charming Baroness Marguerite Dumont, Andrew Marcon as her husband Baron Georges Dumont with Madelbos played by Denis Mpunga, the loyal houseman and keeper of secrets.

Marguerite opens to a beautiful country home, much preparation as the well-staffed household are scurrying about the last minute preparation. The house is filled with tuxedo dressed men and equally alluring females.

With breathless anticipation the orchestra is ready, the benefactor hosting the event, Baroness Marguerite Dumont will be presenting an afternoon of arias from her most memorable work as the camera pans pictures of her in leading roles of the world’s most famous operas.

Aubert Fenoy as Kyrill, Sylvain Dieuaide as Lucien are invited guests as the baroness presents a private recital. The two are newspaper men, encouraging change, leaders of the bourgeoisie revolution. Christa Theret plays Hazel a young gifted opera singer also invited. She is to give the baroness praise of her skill, her talent before the show for which she will be compensated.

The pause as the aristocratic audience, lovers of fine wine, music, art, are waiting. The beautiful, enchanting Baroness Marguerite steps in front of the crowd, her loyal house man, Madelbos, at the side directing applause, she pauses and voila!

The camera pans Kyrill and Lucian young independent thinkers. The roaring 20’s in Paris, the war has ended. The artists are free again to create, to live. Time has come for change and the revolutionaries are quickly building momentum for a new government.

The men are stunned as the expectation of beauty, the sound that moves men, the rendition of what musical genius and masters intended is missing.

The Baroness is a women of means. With money and freedom, and a love, nee passion for the arts she has adopted a persona that no one will ever challenge as she has means, position, a husband and freedom.

Her loyal house man Madelbos, keeper of all secrets, ensures that she is shown over the top praise, with rooms of flowers, telegrams from American actors who recognize her skill and talent, most reviews, unless they praise her in some way are tossed into the fire, before the mademoiselle   has a chance to see the agitator’s words.

Our young rebel rousers from the bourgeoisie have fallen mad for the Baroness as with gusto and without limits she invests in her performance.  Soon she has decided to give a proper recital, in a concert hall with only her.

As she will need a teacher, Medelbos finds an old divo of Le Opera, Atos Pezzini, played by Michael Fau, whose show is conveniently ending and he, of course, as mad as Marguerite with one difference, agrees, without a voice test, to become her teacher.

As he is envisioning his future, his chubby fingers trace the picture frames of the Baroness as the lead in this opera, and that, as Madam Butterfly, Le Valkyrie, Carmen. It is scintillating, he finally will be recognized. His talent, his skill will take her beyond.

They begin. To his surprise as he waits, breathlessly, waiting for the perfect first note, the glass shattering range, the scale of notes that can bring tears to the eyes of the admirer. A stunning sound, unlike anything he has heard.

What follows is what means can buy; despite lack in some areas, quality teaching is procured and soon the ruse is so supported that even those who doubted most are sure our lovely Marguerite can pull it off.  

Marguerite is an enchanting, off key, comedy. Catherine Frot is captivating and delightful as the tone deaf Marguerite. She plays sweet and as the underdog we want that moment when mind over matter compensates for lack and suddenly the song bird shows up.

I really enjoyed this film. It is fun, charming, rich with multiple backstory’s, layers all waiting for the audience to engage with them. The audience of critics were laughing outloud.

Presented skillfully with great authenticity, each character fully flushed out, weaving together a great masquerade that holds the fragile life, of our Marguerite, together.

Rated R for graphic brief nudity, sexual content and drug use as depictions from Paris in the 1920’s exhibiting sexual freedoms, frivolity and fun.

As the film comes to an end the extent of the deception that all has aided becomes the burden of the one. It leaves the viewer wondering what one would do in the same situation. Is truth, in this case the best medicine or revenge? As a women of means, a sheltered existence, the possibilities for a gentle awakening from such a creative group should be limitless.

Marguerite, with a running time of 126 minutes, opens in select cities March 11, 2016. For an evening of great enchantment see this film. In French with English subtitles!

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