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Reinventing Marvin

Country: France, Language: French, 115 mins

Original Title

Marvin ou la belle éducation
  • Director: Anne Fontaine
  • Writer: Anne Fontaine; Pierre Trividic
  • Producer: Philippe Carcassonne; Pierre-Alexandre Schwab

CGiii Comment

Think Billy Elliot without the feelgood factor!

Here...the dancer is replaced by a budding thespian...desperate to leave behind his humble [and often traumatic] roots. London becomes Paris...but, Marvin is a far more grittier depiction of social mobility than that of Billy's - this is a caustic, contemporary rendering of the familiar rags-to-riches story...

Anne Fontaine delivers a non-linear timeline that - at times - can be a little exasperating...but, it does amplify that this kid could have gone down a wholly different path than the one he found himself on...rather than the one he may have chosen. Many can attribute the reason for success down to one person, Marvin is no exception...without his considerate headmistress, Marvin would never become the Martin he is now.

Indeed, the beauty and freedoms that education unlocks - a seriously powerful statement considering, in this day and age, everyone thinks that fame and fortune can be attained by participating in some shabby reality show.

Success has various definitions...ingénues of the reality shows want 'money' - to get it, they shamelessly expose themselves [usually adopting some sob story...which is tantamount to emotional blackmail]. Ingénues of the stage want 'credibility' and 'longevity' - the mechanism that they use is an absolute immersion in theatrical pretension. And, in this film, that pretension is haute couture - courtesy of Isabelle Huppert...who [bizarrely] plays Isabelle Huppert.

Martin [né Marvin] is a completely out of his depth with all the pretend sophistication...he certainly dips his toe in the water, then paddles...learning and absorbing, before he swims. The play within the film is performed in a rather large paddling pool...replete with pretentiously lapping, autobiographical lines. The irony is not lost...here's a young man with a sob story, drowning in theatricality...and, when you really analyse success, it all boils down to one thing: Luck...right place, right time, right people. The talent is...recognising that alignment and grabbing hold of it...with a vice-like grip.

In the pursuit of success...there are those who sink, there are those who swim...and, there are those who paddle. 

Not the easiest film to watch...but, with a little thought, it will leave you thinking! Are you a sinker, a swimmer...or, a paddler?

Cerebral, pretentious and beautifully performed by Marvin and Martin.


Trailer...

The(ir) Blurb...

The story revolves around Martin Clément, born Marvin Bijou, who ran away from his hometown and his family. He retells his story through a stage play that proves to be a smash hit. But at what price? Interestingly, while the film borrows its central plot from the novel by Edouard Louis (which outlines the childhood and teenage years of a young boy in a village, where he is shunned by the inhabitants and even by his own family when he comes out as a homosexual), it simultaneously takes the story a littler further, as the movie follows the character until the age of 23, whereas the storyline of the book comes to a halt when he starts secondary school. Delving into the topics of stigmatisation just because someone is different and the building of one’s identity, the plot also shows how the character eventually manages to dig himself out of a very distressing situation thanks to his various encounters.

Cast & Characters

Finnegan Oldfield as Marvin;
Isabelle Huppert as Isabelle;
Charles Berling as Roland;
Catherine Salee;
Catherine Mouchet;
Vincent Macaigne;
Gregory Gadebois;
Rebecca James as L'amie anglaise de Roland;
Joel Dupre La Tour as Docteur Bagenelle;
Philippe Ohrel as Professeur de theatre;
Ian McCamy as New York Guest; Jules

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