Bonjour mes amis. Je suis heureux d’être l’examen de films de la 2014 Cine Franco Film Festival.
I hope you enjoyed my attempt at French. I took it all throughout high school, so I do remember bits and pieces of the language. I thought this would be a nice introduction, as I share my review of Fanny, directed by Daniel Auteuil.
The characters may be different, but the situation seems always the same. Girl (Fanny, played by Victoire Belezy) meets boy. Boy (Marius, played by Raphaël Personnaz) seduces girl, girl falls head over heels and cannot bear to be without her true love.
Realizing that love comes with a price, boy needs to ”be free” leaves a cryptic note, and sets sail for the high seas, and the seemingly poor girl is left broken-hearted. Faced with a dilemma that threatens the very core of what is perceived as honourable and moral value, the secret is out that Fanny is not suffering a terrible illness at all, she is carrying Marius’ child and soon enough, everyone has an opinion about it!
The greatest character is Cesar, Marius’ father, played by Daniel Auteuil, who is highly eccentric and exaggerates every possible reason for his son not saying goodbye, in order to compensate for the real devastation he feels inside. His temper seems to flare at any moment and all his friends try to reassure him that Marius has not forgotten him.
Finally, a letter comes from Marius, and after a dramatic time of not caring at all, it almost feels like a new character emerges, as Cesar is overjoyed finally hearing from his son. However, complications start to arise, as Marius’ letters begin to leave out one important person; Fanny.
As the weeping continues of why Marius has left her, decisions have to be made and quickly. A wealthy merchant named Mister Panisse, played by Jean-Pierre Darroussin, who is old enough to be Fanny’s father and smitten with her for years, finds out the news about Marius departure. As he weasels his way in, the moment comes when he boldly asks Fanny for her hand in marriage, knowing soon enough that she is having a baby.
Never being able to father a child of his own and frightened that he may never get the chance again, Mister Panisse is thrilled with the news and promises a life that would be tough for any man without great wealth to provide. Even though the marriage is out of necessity more than love, on Fanny’s side, it is clear that she must do what is best for her child and leave the fantasy of Marius returning alone.
To everyone’s surprise, Marius suddenly returns, hoping to rekindle their love again, but left to suffer with the worst heartache of all.
The story itself is not complicated, but there are so many layers to this movie that make it absolutely delightful to watch from the beginning to the very end. The dialogue is witty and meaningful, with humour and emotional depth.
Even though Mister Panisse is viewed as a creepy old man who is enamoured with a young girl, as his character develops, his heart is in the right place, and that uneasy feeling turns into the thought of maybe this arrangement is alright after all.
It is also interesting to note that many of the taboos that we shy away from because of society’s perceptions and expectations, are clearly brought to the forefront in this film, and depicted in a way that has cultural relevance for its time.
Some of us may mock the values of the past, but they did teach us some valuable lessons of how to change for the future.