“Marguerite” Follows Her Discordant Dream

“Marguerite” is a dark delight, a cringe comedy that skirts tragedy throughout, examining delusion, entitlement, denial and the question of whether the truth is essential. Tom Long, Detroit News, about film Marguerite 

Is it always right to follow your dreams? Most readily say yes, but the film Marguerite, which follows the title character (Catherine Frot) as she pursues hers, may make you think twice.

“Cover your ears and open your hearts,” says Peter Debruge, Variety, about this award-winning film and its off-key protagonist:

In French director Xavier Giannoli’s pitch-perfect comedy of manners, ‘Marguerite,’ a shameless chanteuse with a surplus of money and a shortage of talent buys her way into the spotlight, exposing the hypocrisy of her unctuous social circle in the process. Inspired by screechy American soprano Florence Foster Jenkins— the selfsame warbler soon to be embodied by Meryl Streep in a forthcoming Stephen Frears biopic — this splendid satire benefits not only from being the first to reach the screen, but also from ‘The Singer’ director Giannoli’s gift for striking just the right tone with such tricky material.

The Trailer

More About Baroness Marguerite Dumont

Tom Long, Detroit News: “…(H)ere’s what no one has ever told Marguerite: She’s an absolutely awful singer, resolutely off-key and hard to bear.”

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “To her ears, she sounds like Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland, and she is so sweet-natured and so devoted to music that no one will give her the bad news.”

Tirdad Derakhshani, Philly.com: “She may be crazy, but Marguerite is gentle, generous, and loving. She has the purity of heart lacking in people who are sane enough to manipulate, cheat, and lie.”

What About Her Social Circle?

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: “Underneath the grandeur, she’s a neglected wife, with a husband, Georges (Andre Marcon), who’s mortified by her pretensions and is having an affair with her best friend, (Astrid Whettnall), to boot.”

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “She has a coterie of people willing to humor her — a husband devoted to preserving her self-delusion, a critic charmed by her spirit, a Dadaist artist who actually thinks she’s good (or so bad she’s good), a voice teacher coerced and paid to give lessons, and a group of friends with a rare gift for sitting in an audience and keeping a straight face.”

Other Themes Explored

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: “What’s interesting about Giannoli’s film is that it poses sharp questions about the nature of art and who it’s for. Is something necessarily worthless if everyone perceives it as crap? Or is there a purity that comes with artistic expression entirely unshaped by fashion?”

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: “On one level, ‘Marguerite’ is about a ruined post-World War I Europe learning to feel again through the example of a woman convinced of beauty where there is none. On another, it’s about a husband choosing to love his wife for who she is rather than what he wants her to be. On a third, it’s about the power and limits of belief. On a fourth, it’s a portrait of a madwoman. On a fifth, of an angel.”

Overall Reviews

Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post: “Although there are moments of real humor, mainly having to with Marguerite’s painfully obvious inability to carry a tune, the movie is less funny ha-ha than it is poignantly, perplexingly wry. If we’re invited to laugh at Marguerite from time to time, we’re also given the opportunity to understand her, or to at least care enough to try.”

Stephen Holden, New York Times: “Like a self-enraptured, attention-starved diva who can’t tear herself away from the stage after the applause has faded, ‘Marguerite’ overstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes. What redeems it is Ms. Frot’s subtle, deeply compassionate portrayal of a rich, lonely woman clutching at an impossible dream until reality intrudes.”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: “‘Marguerite’ achieves what the protagonist herself never managed: perfect pitch.”

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