|Marius & Jeanette
Why is it that European films, especially French films, allow actresses
of a certain age to play fully-rounded romantic characters? And cast opposite
male actors of roughly the same age! Here in the USA, actresses young
enough to be the leading man's daughter are cast as their love interests
and audiences go along. When it's the other way around, like Susan Sarandon
and James Spader in White Palace, audiences aren't as quick to accept it.
And as Goldie Hawn's character in The First Wives Club lamented for an
actress there are three phases to the career, babe, district attorney and
Driving Miss Daisy. In Europe, older women hold their allure. Jeanne Moreau
and Catherine Deneuve have only gotten more beautiful and more interesting
as they have aged. In the charming and unlikely love story Marius and
Jeannette, director Robert Guediguian has created the role of a lifetime
for his wife, Ariane Ascaride who won the Best Actress Cesar for performance
Marius and Jeannette is a rather simple love story of two fortysomethings
who have both been married before and, as they say, carry a lot of baggage.
Jeannette is a big- mouthed supermarket cashier raising two children (by two
different husbands) whose sass and spunk get her fired. Marius (Gerard Meylan)
has feigned a leg injury in order to land a job as a security guard at a
soon-to-be-demolished cement factory. As in any romance, the couple meet
cute. She tries to steal some paint from the site, he catches her and is
intrigued by this petite motor-mouth. Gradually, they are drawn to one another
in a believable fashion; it is as much out of loneliness as it is out of the need
to be desired. When obstacles to their happiness arise, Jeannette's friends
and neighbors intervene to reunite the pair. Except for an unnecessary bar
fight near the film's end, Marius and Jeannette is a well-crafted, adult love
story; that's it.
There's no real plot, merely scenes that depict the ebb and flow of a
relationship. That neither of the leads is drop dead gorgeous adds to the
audience's rooting for them as a couple. These are full-bodied human beings,
complete with flaws and annoying habits. Physically mismatched, the
towering Meylan and the petite Ascaride form a strong palpable bond and
they are ably supported by a cast that creates colorful but realistic characters.
MPAA Rating: None
Running time: 102 mins.
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.