Children Of The Marshland

Children Of The Marshland

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When the French go soft, they do so with charm. Jean Becker's nostalgic soak in the memories of a perfect summer between the wars, has nothing to do with real life. It is set along the banks of the Loire, in what feels like a sleepy backwater. Here frogs are for fishing, snails come out after the rain, lily-of-the-valley grows wild under the trees, and there is not a mosquito to be heard.

An incredibly nice drifter settles in a shack by the water, where he lives off odd jobs and is as honest as the days are sweet. His neighbour is a lazy, doltish clown, who has three adorable children and a penchant for the grape. They go around as a double act, with the nice one scolding the fool for his bad manners.

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In the nearby town, they make friends, who come and visit them, admiring the beauty of their simple lives, which today would be considered a case for Social Services. The nice one says, "We are paupers with pride, otherwise we are deadbeats."

The message is wrapped in rose leaves. A good man is worth more than a rich man and freedom is in the heart, not the pocket. Life may be sad, but happiness is right there inside you, thinking of the old days, the quiet days, before the marshlands were drained for a car park.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Soft-centred tale of a group of pals in rural France.

Director: Jean Becker

Writer: Sebastien Japrisot

Starring: Jacques Villeret, Jacques Gamblin, Andre Dussolier, Michel Serrault, Isabelle Carre, Eric Cantona

Year: 1999

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: France

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