Review: 'Marguerite' is a Joyful Celebration of Dreamers

Kyra Power ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Catherine Frot and Michel Fau in Marguerite. Photo Credit: Cohen Media Group.
From director Xavier Giannoli, Marguerite beautifully blends comedy and drama through a collection of cringe-worthy moments, exploring dreams, hopes, and how far people will go to save face. Marguerite Dumont (Catherine Frot) is a wealthy 1920s French Baroness who dreams of the opera. Her only problem is she cannot sing. Yet, not one of her high society ‘friends’ or her husband, for that matter want to break it to her. They endear her by listening politely while her staff stuffs cotton balls in their ears and then, when she is done, everyone applauds and smiles. The film comes in when Marguerite is older, this tradition of saving face going on for some time. Despite her horrid singing, Marguerite’s naivety collects an eclectic group of people who try to use her, but also are greatly endeared to her. From the struggling critic (Sylvain Dieuaide) and the young singer (Christa Théret), to her aging teacher (Michel Fau) and her severe Butler (Denis Mpunga), each of these characters embark on the adventure of hosting a concert with Marguerite.
Giannoli skillfully creates a humorous surrealist tone from the cruelties of politeness and impressively sustains it throughout the film. While there are painful moments to watch, there are just as many tender moments. This largely comes from Frot’s performance. Bringing such simplicity and excitement to her performance, Frot draws in her audience. Her loneliness and desperation come through as a childish excitement and joy.
Catherine Frot in Marguerite. Photo Credit: Cohen Media Group.
Her oddities; posing in opera costumes and eating only white food, to name a couple, only help to express these emotions and also endears the audience to her a little more. Giannoli captures each surrealist moment in a wonderfully austere way. He does not force any emotions on the audience, but instead starkly shows the bizarrely sad life of Marguerite Dumont, asking ‘If you were here, in this time and place, would you break it to her, this fragile dreamer?’
Well acted, beautifully shot, and impressively directed, Marguerite shares the complex life of a woman living in a society so centered on politeness. Through its dark comedy it poses questions to the audience about themselves and the world they live in. Fighting its way through a world where everyone has their own agenda, Marguerite explores what it means to love, to take risks, and to save face.
Overall Rating: A-
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