Bonaparte and I drove into Philly yesterday to see a film I’ve wanted to see for quite some time. “Marguerite”, a film directed by Xavier Giannoli, written by Giannoli and Marcia Romano. This film is very loosely based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, an American woman whose inheritance allowed her to live through her dream of being an operatic singer.
This poster shows one of the film’s crucial moments. Honestly, if you get the chance, you need to see this movie!
It stars the great actress, Catherine Frot. It is also a French language film with subtitles.
Catherine Frot with director Giannoli. Looks like she is having a great time with him!
There is so much to love about this film. It takes place during the 1920’s– in and just outside of Paris. Frot plays Baroness Marguerite Dumont, a naïve, lonely and delusional woman. Her husband, Georges, played by André Marcon, is more protective of her and doesn’t really come to terms with his love for her until later in the film.
Marcon, as Baron Georges Dumont, spends an awful lot of time making sure his car breaks down whenever Marguerite sings.
Marguerite sees herself as a talented operatic singer who, in reality, is tone deaf, off pitch and screeches like a pained alley cat in order to reach the high notes. Bascially, she sucks but nobody will tell her the truth.
Singing to an audience in her home, this scene pretty much gives you an idea of her “unique” voice!
Too many people either sponge off her generosity or see her as an opportunity for their own benefit. Even so, these are the very same people who come to love and want to shield her.
Among the opportunists are Lucien Beaumont, a music critic played by Sylvain Dieuaide; Kyrill Von Priest, a douchey anarchist, played by Aubert Fenoy and a young opera singer, Hazel, beautifully played by Christa Theret. Lucien and Hazel ultimately come to love and protect Marguerite.
Marguerite believes herself to be such a great talent that she has her driver, who is also her photographer, snap images of her as great operatic characters.
Denis M’Punga, who plays Maldelbos, Marguerite’s photographer and driver, is another protector and admirer of Marguerite’s. Or is he using her for his own agenda?
Throughout all this, Frot doesn’t portray Marguerite as narcissistic at all. Marguerite is well-aware of her wealth and privilege but isn’t snobby or arrogant about it.
The photos of Marguerite as operatic divas are comical and incredibly sad at the same time…
Giannoli has done a clever job in presenting the story as a visual book with the movie being divided into chapters. He’s also done a great, great job in making a film that runs the emotional gamut. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud comedic moments but there are also many moments where you want to run up to the screen and just take the character of Marguerite into your arms and hug her and hold her. You also may need a tissue or two.
Frot tells it all without words. She is so incredibly expressive–look at the sadness and loneliness in her eyes.
But there’s more to it than that. Marguerite is not the story of an ingénue. It is the story of a middle-aged woman. A woman who has lived.
I’m not going to give any spoilers but as the story unfolds, Madame Dumont finally hires a voice teacher. And you can be the judge as to whether her voice improves or not.
Atos Pezzini, a has-been opera singer, played by Michel Fau (he was also nominated for a Cesar for this role), is Marguerite’s opportunist voice teacher–and even he comes to feel for Marguerite and becomes one of her protectors.
This tragi-comedy should have been nominated for an Oscar and Frot was robbed of that same nomination.
For me, the most incredible part of the movie was Catherine Frot’s portrayal of Marguerite. Frot’s been around for a while and you may recognize her from the film “Haute Cuisine” in which she plays the chef for the French President. She’s also well known for a series of comedy/mystery series films she starred in with Andrè Dussollier as a husband and wife team who solve crimes, among many other roles. I’m truly happy that she won a Cesar for her performance of Marguerite!
Frot accepting the Cesar for her portrayal as Marguerite
Frot’s talent also lies in her expressive face. Her eyes tell it all. Loneliness, sadness—she’s just incredible.
A face this expressive has not been ruined with fillers or bad plastic surgery!
And she’s adorable. Frot has a face that hasn’t been marred by plastic surgery or needles. She is a mature and naturally beautiful woman who will be turning 60 this year and isn’t trying desperately to hold on to her youth.
She’s so cute. I wanna be besties with her! Bonaparte’s sister had the pleasure of meeting her a few times and said she was an incredibly nice woman–it shows!
Which brings me to this–French actresses (well—most of them) show their age. Not in a bad way either. It’s just that they aren’t injected with Botox and other fillers and their faces are able to convey emotion. When they smile, their faces light up. You can see lines when they frown. Their eyes move. Their lids droop. You can see life in those faces. They rock what gravity has dropped!
Look how beautiful Fanny Ardant is at 67. And she can move her facial features! She’s one of my favorite actresses.
Isabelle Hubbert is 63. I want to know what her secret to great hair and skin is–and her career ain’t slowing down due to her age!
Nathalie Baye is Bonaparte’s longtime crush. He always says she is one of the sexiest women he’s ever seen. Oh..and she is a great actress as well. She’s 67!!
Kristin Scott Thomas may be British, but she has starred in many French films. She’s totally bilingual. Ohhh look-Kristin isn’t Botox smooth! She has lots of character in that talented face of hers! She’s practically a teenager at 55 years!
and then there’s Deneuve! Ok..so she may have had a bit too many fillers on her mouth–but then again, she probably had a ton of over-the-lip lines from all the cigarette’s she’s smoked over the years. Still–at 72, she looks damned good!
Foreign filmmakers seem to respect, love and admire older actresses. And they write for more mature female characters whereas American filmmakers just do not. Take the film “Joy”. The real Joy Mangano will be 60 this year. Why then, was 25 year-old Jennifer Lawrence cast as Joy? Mangano created the infamous prototype for her Miracle Mop when she was 34 years old, couldn’t a woman older than Lawrence had been cast?
Joy Mangano, who is now 60 years old. She’s had the plastic surgery but I’ll tell you, her surgeon did a great job! I think it’s ridiculous that a 25 year old actress would portray her. But–that’s Hollywood!
If Marguerite was made in the USA, I’m sure the story would have been altered to fit a much younger actress. Why can’t the entertainment industry in the USA show the love to older women in a way that embraces our age???
Enjoy the rest of this quiet Easter Sunday. Here’s a beautiful duet by Delibes from Lakmé, Duo des Fleurs. Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne perform. It is also included in the soundtrack of Marguerite by different performers. This gives me chills and I hope you love it as much as I do! XOXOXOXO