A beautifully pitched and subtle drama about a woman whose voice was anything but…
Marguerite is one of the most charming, funny and deeply moving films of 2016. Telling the tragic story of a woman who’s utterly passionate about her singing and yet is unaware that her voice is wildly out of key. What makes this far worse is the web of people who have surrounded her for years have built a fiction in which her voice is celebrated and respected, she holds small recitals at her home and receives warm and loving praise. However when she starts to push further afield and requests that she performs at larger venues, the almost inevitably negative audience reactions threaten to destroy her understanding of herself and the world around her.
What is utterly key in making sure the film engages our sympathies is the lead actor, thankfully Catherine Frot excels here with a performance which is so exquisitely judged as to leave one a little taken aback. She moves us through great humour, pain and empathy with a subtle and hugely affecting approach; we sense a lifetime of pain hidden under her surface and when the cracks start to show it is devastating. Praise has to be given to both the sharp script and impressive direction, both play their respective parts in guiding us through the emotional journey present here, but nobody does more to move us than Frot. I can’t think of a better reason to recommend this film than to witness her at work.
Hollywood are putting out their own version of this story and calling it Florence Foster Jenkins. They’ve cast Meryl Streep in the lead role, a smart choice but one wonders how even Streep could bring more to this story than Frot has done. It will certainly be interesting to compare and contrast the two in the future, but nothing will be taken away from this intelligent film which succeeds at moving us as well as asking poised questions about the nature of art and just who it should be intended for.
Marguerite opens in UK cinemas today (18th March), will you be checking it out? Let me know in the comment box below!