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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Politics > Foreign > France > Marius & Jeannette (DVD)

Marius & Jeannette


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: B



Robert Guédiguian is more like the kind of French director that made their cinema work so well in the first place.  Though his 2000 film The Town Is Quiet was not bad, it was not anything we had not seen before, however competent.  Earlier, in 1997, he made the far better Marius & Jeannette, a comedy about a couple who seem mismatched until they fall for each other.  In Marseilles, Jeannette (Ariane Ascaride, in a gloriously manic performance as a Marxist who can’t take it anymore) tries to steal paint, until caught by guard Marius (Gérard Meylan) who does not want to loose his job because of her.


In what could have been a chance meeting that could have led to arrests, a physical altercation or other conflict, turns into an affair.  She is the free-spirited one and he is a bit suppressed, but not necessarily Marxist.  He likes the freedoms she and it offer, but knows there might be too high a price attached and are their not other ways for him to find ways to make his life less miserable?


Well, the films sides with the workers, a bold thing these days or those.  However, the film is also an exploration of another couple in a situation that could be the best or worst thing that ever happened to them.  Dialogue is bold and the performances solid all around.  Ascaride even won the Best Actress Cesar.  But the best part of what makes the film work is the combination of humor and energy.  You don’t have to agree with any ideology to enjoy this film, unless you are too narrow and stuck in your own closed ways.  You can watch with interest at the script’s fine observations of human nature and in the end, realize that it is more important than ever to have all these ideas out on the table.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 has a softness and detail issue that might be problems going from PAL to NTSC, but the color is still decent and cinematographer Bernard Cavalié (who shot The Town Is Quiet as well) is a good cameraman.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo unfortunately has no real surrounds, but dialogue is clean, clear and funny in the delivery by the cast where applicable.  Extras include an interview with the director, and trailers for this and four other New Yorker DVD releases.  Marius & Jeannette is a pleasant surprise worth going out of your way for.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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