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  • It is a real achievement when you don't hate a film after studying it for your HSC. You watch it numerous times over and over without a break, and of course evermore it will remind you of the hellish end to high school. however Marius et Jeannette is a truly fabulous film and i have yet to find anyone who does not like it. the setting is so completely different to the north shore of Sydney, it ads an enchanting aspect to the film which is a real fairy tale for adults. any fan of french cinema (and just great movies in general) is sure to love this film, destined to become a classic. the small community of l'estaque and the even closer community of Jeannette and her neighbours is a perfect setting for a sweet love story.
  • Marius and Jeanette, a couple of life's walking wounded from the low rent side of the tracks, get it together with the help of their Marseilles neigbourhood. They meet when Jeanette tries to steal paint for her grotty flat from the demolition site guarded by Marius. Watching the film was for the most part like watching paint dry, but it was a pretty finish. The snail's pace seems to be a feature of French romantic comedy, even a working class one like this. Perhaps it's so all the minor characters can tell us their oddball philosphies so we can marvel at how un-hung up about life (and therefore how truly French) they all are. The film plugs a vague feelgood socialism and makes the point that while you don't have to be an idiot to vote National Front (le Pen's neo Nazi party) it helps (the dumbest of the neighbours is a supporter).

    Worth seeing? Yes, if you don't mind the slow pace. The people are ordinary but interesting and the location authentic. Slice of life stuff, but certainly cheaper than a trip to Marseilles.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Possible minor spoilers

    I studied this film for my year twelve French studies and therefore have watched it over and over again. It's the kind of film that doesn't wear out from doing that, because the simple story and loveable characters remain as strong as ever. While it starts out slightly trite and weak, it finishes on a very high, enjoyable note, and is definitely the sort of film that can always bring a smile to your face.

    Robert Guedigian is obviously a director to be interested in, simply because he has several trademarks that are never lost in his films. One is the setting, Marseille. Another is the cast, most notably his wife Ariane Ascaride who takes the lead in all of his films. The third is the working class, anti-rich sentiments which are always prominent. In Marius & Jeanette they primarily take the voice of the character of Caroline, played with much gusto by Pascale Roberts.

    At the heart of this film is three different love stories between six characters who share a small and essentially quite ugly courtyard outside their homes(the place is ugly, but it's home). There's one between the communist, ex-deportee Caroline, and Justin, ex-schoolteacher and intellectual, who teaches the children of the community various things about theology and beliefs. There's the always-rowing Dédé and Monique, the former a fairly unintelligent working man who enjoys life's simple pleasures such as beer and football, the latter the ever-suffering housewife who must take care of their three children. And of course, there's the central romance between the mother of two, Jeanette, and Marius, a guard with a fake limp whom she meets at a cement works near her home.

    While the romances form the centre of the story, Guedigian also makes room for plenty of other themes while he's in there. Most notably there's the communist view of the rich and the way they walk over the common man. There's a portrait of unemployment and the fragility of the working world (M. Ebrard is the greatest example of this). There's comments about death, and what happens to those who cope with it (note the fact that Marius never drinks and Jeanette never smokes). He also manages to slip in a number of fairly snide comments about Aix-en-Provence, the 'neighbour' town of Marseille, so to speak, while all the while there's Justin and his interesting theories about God and religion which he tells to Malek, Jeanette's son by a Muslim father.

    But despite all these themes, it never loses track of its real point, which is the love story. And the love story is definitely the only real winner from all angles here. There can be disagreement, disgruntlement, eye-rolling at all the other issues raised, but the love story is sweet and pure. While it doesn't necessarily illustrate Guedigian's view that love stories among the rich are all about arranged marriages and dowries, it does illustrate his view that those among the poor are really about love, and its obvious and strong relations to companionship.

    The film is well worth watching, and well worth a second look once you've seen it for the first time. It's smart, it's well-handled, heartwarming and extremely satisfying. Possibly Guedigian's best work. **** / *****
  • To set a film in and/or around Marseilles and name one of the two eponymous characters Marius is to invite direct comparison with the great Marcel Pagnol and his own great trilogy Marius, Fanny and Cesar (now available as a boxed set from FNAC and though expensive a 'must' for any serious film buff) and without seeing the film the feeling is that Guediguian is either throwing down the gauntlet or paying homage to Pagnol. After seeing the film it is evident that the latter obtains.This was probably the first Guediguian entry - all top-billing his wonderful wife Ariane Ascaride and all set in/around Marseilles - to reach an international audience and what a way to start. You may balk at this director's obsession with downtrodden workers and bloated capitalists but he does have the good sense and/or decency to sugar the pill with an unforgettable love story - indeed it could be subtitled ironically Love Among The Ruins as the protagonists meet in the ruins of a cement works where Marius is employed as a watchman and Jeannette attempts to steal some paint. In an attempt at symmetry there are three couples involved - with the exception of Marius they are neighbors in a shabby project and when I say that one of them is the great Jean-Pierre Darroussin hip movie-goers will need no more prompting to check this one out. Not that Marius in the shape of Gerard Meylan is any slouch if anybody asks you, in fact this trio comprised the menage a trois in Guediguian's last release (two more are in post-production as I write) Marie-Jo And Her Two Loves, and though Darroussin is very much a supporting player here he makes his presence felt. It is impossible to overpraise this movie. I caught it on its initial release and was overwhelmed, I've just purchased my own copy and if anything it is better on a second viewing and will still be giving pleasure long after this season's popcorn specials have faded from the mindless audiences memory banks. 9/10
  • Set in the low economy end of Marrseilles, where a courtyard is shared by a few surrounding town houses. The main thrust of the story comes from the romance between a mother of two, Jeanette, and the security guard with a limp(!), Maruis. From them branches the relationship and friendship of the neighbours, all with their hang-ups and humour.
  • This film is how life should be portrayed. Those raised on a diet of Hollywood love stories where everyone has a new car, large house and unfeasibly white teeth will find this slice of Gallic realism a bit overpowering. Those of us who prefer our cinema with a bit of bite can appreciate the predicament the two leading characters are in and we can rally for them. A honest heartwarming film that moves at a slow pace (but then who meets a girl, falls in love, befriends her children and lives happily ever after in 97 minutes. I was lucky enough to buy this as a withdrawn VHS from my local library and I prize it as one of the 'top drawer' films in my film collection.
  • pluis20 September 1998
    Robert Guédiguian, director of the film Marius et Jeannette, loves the working class people. I have no quarrel with that. On the other hand, being a socialist director doesn't guarantee a movie that has much artistical merit. The message is loud and clear: working class people are happier than the guys with all the money, because their emotional lives are purer and not spoiled by capitalist values. The problem with this kind of film is that people who adhere to democratic values need not be taught this stuff at such a childish - and sometimes downright stupid - level, while the capitalist viewer sees a conformation of his prejudice that a "communist" director has neither the intelligence nor the good taste to make a film about the working class that is worth spending his costly time on. Guédiguian's intentions are admirable, the result is hard to take seriously.
  • This movie kind of reminded me of a cross between "Life is Sweet" (a humorous examination of the lower-middle class), "The Bridges of Madison County" (an examination of how middle aged people actually continue to have libidos and emotions), and a random French romantic love farce.

    The director tries to give this film a political slant, showing the perils of capitalism in favor of socialism, and dedicates this film "to all of the workers of the world." Ignore it. Focus instead on the characters, most of whom are people much like people you have met in your life, with French sensibilities. The love story between the main characters is basically an excuse to get to know this small community of neighbors and show how they interact.

    This is not one of the great films of all time, but I enjoyed it. It was a pleasant way to spend a little under two hours.
  • I'm not sure why this movie garnered such hostile reviews on here. I gather it was assigned in some class and that the students did not like it. I also gather that it was presented with a Marxist perspective, which is unfortunate.

    This movie doesn't have much in the way of social commentary. It is the unremarkable story of a group of individuals in a poor neighborhood in Marseilles. They are all basically likable, which works for awhile. By the second half of the movie, though, there don't seem to be enough ideas to justify going on. The ending seems like a made-for-TV movie.

    Not a movie worth going out of your way for. Pleasant, but, I suspect, at least for me, almost instantly forgettable.
  • This movie is for those who want to believe that life can be pleasant even if one is a broke divorced unemployed mother of two without prospects as long as one believes. In this case the requisite belief is not in god or in life everlasting but in love & some communitarian evolution of romanticized communism. Our once deserted and once widowed unemployed heroine finds love amongst the deconstructing ruins of a cement factory with its emotionally and "physically" crippled security guard. The film is not unrelieved tendentious reality though the only action is a rather bloody bar room brawl from which the protagonists escape drunk but without injury. The one great myth that deserves debunking is that a dozen people in a third of a dozen seperate households can live cheek by jowl in a fading tenement, sharing all intimacies and still like each other. I was somewhat mean in giving it a 6 but it sure isn't worth the 8.7 average rating that prompted me to see it. The French must have different eyes.
  • "Marius and Jeannette" is a movie from Robert Guédiguian, a filmmaker who has almost always worked with the same actors. More important, this film that is supposed to be a tribute to the world of Marcel Pagnol was an unexpected success at the French box-office. I must admit that don't share this enthusiasm from the public at all. I would have liked not to have reserves about Guédiguian's work but it is impossible. I consider "Marius and Jeannette" as a really trite love story that takes in a popular district of Marseille (it is useful to add that all Guédiguian's works take place in this big French city). Trite, because it follows a classical outline: meeting, love affair, misunderstanding, separation and reconciliation. Moreover, there's ponderousness in Guédiguian's style and it is particularly true when the film turns to comedy. Due to this characteristic, it is nearly impossible to laugh honestly in the moments supposed to be funny.

    In fact, the disappointment from "Marius and Jeannette" mostly lies in its screenplay. For example, it doesn't avoid vulgarity (when Marius shows his bottom in the bar) and doesn't exclude implausibilities either: Jeannette's daughter wants to go to Paris to study journalism. A good idea as long as you work hard enough to fulfill one's dream. But here, you don't see her opening a book or studying! In another hand, the clichés linked to any love story haven't been forgotten: throughout the story, we learn that Marius' former wife died in a car crash. An annoying point: the music. Too overwhelming and clumsily used in the way it badly suits to the atmosphere of certain scenes.

    All right, Robert Guédiguian introduces his characters with a lot of affection and tenderness (particularly Marius) but it is not sufficient enough to make this movie pleasant. Quite obviously, the director isn't gifted to shot a comedy based on a love story. He is more at ease and convincing when it comes to make a gritty and realistic representation of Marseille. Try "La Ville est Tranquille" (2000) for instead.
  • rgoodden31 December 2006
    A useful film, if one's studying French socialist thought. In this film all characters are mere debris at the mercy of a capitalist tide. And the "terror" of globalization looms just over the horizon! A serious study of the French Revolution (1789) and its Reign of Terror would be helpful background to understanding this director's seeming grudge against life's realities as acted out by the lead characters. The story line is minimal, with an overpowering message of "death to all aristocrats (capitalists)!" immediately recognizable to any student of French history. Do they still buy this tripe on the Left Bank? Apparently so. If you're watching this as part of a college course you may well ask yourself just how sensible your professor is. But then, he/she's likely to have long since tipped his hand by continually denigrating all that questions Marxist/socialist dogma. Continue to feign agreement, as your final course grade may well depend on it!
  • A rather tender and poignant love story, about Jeannette who is an outspoken woman, and looses her job as a cashier because she is apt to speak her mind once too often. She meets up with the taciturn Marius. They both have painful pasts to deal with. Guediguian creates a finely judged low-key film from this story, weaving in some nice touches about the small community of friends from the industrial area where Jeannette lives. Guediguian's strong left-of-centre politics intrude into the narrative rather crudely at times, but not enough to spoil the film.

    Recommended.
  • The love between Marius and Jeannette is sweet. Perhaps a film that would relate more with viewers 40+, this film still has some connection with most of the other age groups. I had to study this in school and it's funny how it relates to such issues as: • Belonging versus alienation • Coping with change • Tolerance of difference This film really works on two levels: entertainment and education. The story initially focuses on Jeannette and her family, but soon everyone in her neighbourhood gets involved in the storyline. Each character experiences love, pain, acceptance and changes. This film predominantly relies on its actors. All the actors really get into their roles, and it does show that they are having plenty of fun. Simply put, this film is simple and lovely.
  • jmireland115 March 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    I am probably biased against this film, as I am studying it at school in extension french, but this is the most terrible movie I have ever seen. The people simply can't act; the camera angles are always dodgy as, and there is almost no backing music; a terrible film all up.

    Not to mention, the whole 'old-people love' thing is just gross. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but it is kind of sickening seeing Gerard Meylan's derrière TWICE in the film.

    All round, a terrible film; no plot, no acting skill... terrible quality piece. I'm sure Robert Guediguian is a very talented director and producer, but this movie was not some of his finer work.
  • Marius ET Jeannette is a nostalgic film created to highlight class struggle and things long gone. The latter is evident by the close nit community given by the living arrangements and how the people interact. The class struggle, given by the poor precarious employment and by the simplicity of life, where sex seems to be the only interest they can afford, highlights a longing for the France that once was the biggest power in the European union ( notice how in the beginning of the movie, a world balloon floats in the once great harbour - a symbol of globalisation and capitalism that has left France behind). Overall the movie is the same as many other french romantic movies .. a very slow start to a seemingly pointless love story , where all you can think is "get over it you two and get together!" and where the ending is rather disappointing. I wouldn't recommend it unless you had to study the french bitterness of the 90s.
  • My score of a 6 is lower than most ratings for this movie. I think much of this is because I found myself irritated by Jeanette and could see no reason for Marius to fall for her. To me, she was VERY bad tempered and crabby. This combined with their first meeting (when Marius caught her stealing paint) made the entire relationship unsatisfying and a bit ridiculous. Yes, Marius was lonely but couldn't he have found better? If they had written her part a little better, it would have been a much better film. Also, this film might put off some of the more politically conservative viewers, as the virtues of communism are touted by one of the main characters and the film is "dedicated to the workers". This is a very French sentiment--where communism, socialism and conservatism have coexisted for some time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film being a HSC study text probably doesn't help its cause, but soon after I starting watching I was wishing the board of studies had chosen a more entertaining text.

    The "action" (if the cinematic ramblings of a nostalgic director can be labelled as such) takes place in the working class suburb of l'Estaque in the south of France. The plot is simple - the titular characters fall in love, clichéd plot devices pull them apart, before getting back together for a feel-good ending. All wonderfully bland and formulaic.

    The only difference here is that there is a variety of interesting (but pointless) side-characters and subplots around them, sometimes genuinely good as individual scenes but always jarringly disjointed.

    And here is the film's main fault: there is a lot of potential within the quirky neighbours, but they are reduced to little more than unrelated vignettes that simply distract from the main story.

    By themselves, unrelated vignettes would have been fine - as would a bland romance.

    But by mixing the two, director Robert Gediguian creates an unappetising sludge that is messy, meandering and boring - a crime with such potentially interesting characters to explore.