Already a runaway success in its native France, Xavier Giannoli’s ‘Marguerite’ is finally getting a UK release. Driven by a magnetic star turn from Catherine Frot, the film navigates the tricky terrain between uproarious comedy and humane pathos.
Set in 1921, just outside Paris, a party is being held at the famous Marguerite Dumont’s mansion. Little is known about the mysterious Marguerite, except that she has devoted her whole life to music. As she takes centre stage, she sings enthusiastically but terribly out of tune. When a provocative young journalist writes a rave review on her latest performance, she starts to believe in her talent. This gives her the courage she needs to follow her dream – to perform in front of a crowd of complete strangers.
It’s a story of a lost illusion and the embodiment of a life, sees Frot joined by André Marcon, Michel Fau, Christa Théret and Denis Mpunga. After its acclaimed world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Marguerite has proved a critical and commercial success in France, with more than a million admissions to date.
Moving along at a deft pace, the film combines gorgeous visuals, set design and costumes, a witty script and music from Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi. “I love characters that are single-minded and obsessive by nature,” said director Giannoli. “They carry the whole film along with their personality and give it tension, pace and perspective. Marguerite is living her passion: she experiences the joys and the suffering that go hand in hand with a life dedicated to music.” The director of critically acclaimed films such as ‘Superstar’, ‘In The Beginning’, ‘The Singer’ and ‘Eager Bodies’, Giannoli was instantly intrigued when he heard a recording of Jenkins singing on the radio. After extensive research he wrote a fictional script transposing the story to 1920s France, a pivotal time and place for both artistic and personal freedom.