Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant star in ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ which is released next month in the UK. Jenkins was an unfortunately notoriously bad opera singer and her life is the subject of the upcoming film. The same woman has also inspired the film that I’m going to be reviewing here, ‘Marguerite’. This is a french language film produced in not only France but also in the Czech Republic and Belgium. Could it hit those high notes of spectacular foreign film though?
Firstly, if you are a fan of operatic or classical music you are in for a treat as this film has a magnificent array of music from those genres. Unfortunately at times you’ll have to put up with the title character musically murdering some pieces from this array but even these moments have comedy or even charm to make up for it. However, one issue that the film does have regarding its scenes of performance were that at times the soundtrack simply didn’t match those who were supposedly singing it. This does happen a number of times and the failure to match both elements together more accurately is a shame. Adding to the issues I found with the film was it’s length. At over two hours long this is a drama that takes its time and on occasions it felt like it was taking just a tad too long. The narrative also contributed to this problem in that it leads its audience to believe that the film will conclude sooner than it does. Although while these were issues the content that it devotes so much time to is largely of a good quality.
What often brought relief from the elongated narrative was the humour that featured within it. This story and film are truly bonkers in parts and whether you’re simply grinning or belly laughing ‘Marguerite’ has to tickle some part of your funny bone as the comedy really is quite humourous. Another positive, and a big one at that, was the cast. There were some really fantastic performances here, none more so than the lead actress, Catherine Frot. She portrays Marguerite with such depth and versatility that one moment you’ll be laughing at her, then with her but then she’ll hit more of your sensitive emotions. It’s not just Frot who impresses though as many of the other performers do to and no doubt the strength of the lead and the supporting cast are a reason why the film chooses to take it’s time. The comedy and cast combine very well together but the narrative itself is rather thought provoking, which is always a plus in a film. The story constantly poses the question to its audience of what would they do? Watching the other character debate about this throughout the film is one of the many highlights and a clever tool to involve the audience even if they don’t realise it.
So whilst I found ‘Marguerite’ a bit too long in places and thought some of the musical scenes could have been executed better it really was quite enjoyable. If nothing else the performances are quite wonderful but when good quality comedy and drama are added as well the film makes the price of admission really worth your while. The involvement that it gathers from the audience is always great too and many aspects of the movie will have you thinking during and after the finale.
Rating – 7.5/10
Question: What is your favourite use of operatic/classical music in a film?
Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.