Eye For Film >> Movies >> Marius (2013) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
There's a certain group of cosy words, including nostalgic, warm and gentle that have a tendency to damn with faint praise, and yet all of them apply to Daniel Auteuil's charming (there's another one) adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's Marius. It's a hug of a film which, despite being set in a sun-kissed fairytale style Marseilles, is perfect for those looking for a feel-good outing that's suitable for all the family in the run-up to Christmas. Parents needn't be alarmed by the 12 rating - there is the briefest whisper of nudity (a woman, face down on a bed) but it's over in such a flash that its unlikely to upset any but the strictest of prudes and children of 10 or 11 will probably find much to enjoy elsewhere in the film.
It marks Auteuil's second outing as a director and the first part of this Marseilles trilogy, which also includes Fanny and, soon to be released in France, César. It's a step up from his 2011 adaptation of The Well-Digger's Daughter - also from a Pagnol novel - which though pleasant, suffered from pacing problems that are thankfully absent here.
This is Marseilles through rose-coloured glasses, a twinkling port town, drenched in technicolor-style hues and shot on a set that is deliberately theatrical - and none the worse for that. It is here that Marius (Raphaël Personnaz) lives with his widower dad (Auteuil, relishing his part as a sympathetic but comic foil) and dreams of sailing off on adventure with one of the boats that regularly leaves the harbour. Anchoring him in the town, however, is Fanny (Victoire Bélézy), the daughter of the local shellfish seller Honorine (Marie-Anne Chazel, having a blast) but will Marius' refusal to admit his love for her drive her towards the dubious charms of the old-enough-to-be-her-father Panisse (Jean-Pierre Darroussin)?
The film follows their will-they/won't-they romance, while also finding plenty of comic mileage in the generation above them. Auteuil fuels the romantic vibe from the start, frequently shooting Marius and Fanny barely a nose tip apart so we can fully enjoy their repressed attraction, but also takes pleasure in Pagnol's humour - whether it is in scenes of mock sparring between the father and son or ensemble comedy round a card table. Personnaz, who resembles a young Ian Ogilvy and who has the dancing, effortless grace of Gene Kelly, is perfect as Marius and is beautifully teamed with Bélézy, the pair of them always hitting the right note of romance without tipping into schmaltz or silliness. The result is a sweet-natured joy, the ending of which will have you immediately booking your ticket for the sequel, although those catching it at the French Film Festival later this month can enjoy both at a single sitting. At the risk of resorting to that cosy group of words again, this is an old-fashioned treat.Reviewed on: 01 Nov 2013