The Return Of Martin Guerre

The Return Of Martin Guerre

***1/2

Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

Martin Guerre (Gérard Depardieu) returns to his family in rural France after eight years at war. The year is 1542.

Home life appears happier. Where once he was surly and moody, he's now caring and attentive. He's a changed man. Soon people begin to suspect that he's not Martin Guerre at all, but an impostor, and he's called before a court to answer these charges.

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The film features fine performances, a gripping story, backed by a powerful script and excellent direction. For all that, I didn't much care for it.

Sticking to what I can put my finger on, Depardieu gives as strong a performance as he ever has and he's not let down by the supporting cast, that is superb. In the courtroom scenes, in particular, he shows why he's such a respected actor, expressing perfectly to the audience numerous emotional conflicts his character is going through, while suggesting that these are not revealed to those in the court.

Even greater than Depardieu's presence is the feel that has been created of 16th century country life in France. The set design and Oscar-nominated costume design are thoroughly convincing. The aesthetic, the actors and, indeed, everyone involved deserve to be part of a film that is a joy to watch. Despite everything that's so right about it, The Return Of Martin Guerre is not that film.

I'm at a loss to explain the way I feel. I'm not carrying any prejudices against the genre, stars, style, or anything. I don't know why I don't like it, or why it filled me with inexplicable ambivalence from start to finish. To render this review thoroughly useless, I honestly couldn't say whether other people will feel the same, or will love it as it deserves to be loved.

Sorry to be of no help.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2004
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A soldier returns home from war in 1542 in France and is accused of being an imposter.
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Director: Daniel Vigne

Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Daniel Vigne

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Nathalie Baye, Stephane Peau, Bernard Pierre Donnadieu, Sylvie Meda, Maurice Barrier

Year: 1982

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France

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