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
, director Robert Guediguian has created the role of a lifetime
 for his wife, Ariane Ascaride who won the Best Actress Cesar for performance
 as Jeannette.

         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.


                 Rating:                B+
                 MPAA Rating:       None
                 Running time:      102 mins.
© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.