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  • A beautiful story. A reckoning with the oppressive past using art as a channel for overflowing sorrows and melancholies and transforming his own reality. The performances of Oldfield and Julies are very touching. I would given a 7,5 if I could.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a young boy, Marvin Bijoux lives in grinding rural poverty with an almost comically lower-lower-lower working class family: troglodyte work-shy father who staggers around the dingy house in his underpants; hefty chain-smoking mother who boasts about her ability to 'drop children like a hen'; thuggish older brother; thieving younger brother - and an older sister who appears suddenly, without explanation, in the middle of the film. School provides no respite, as there Marvin is subjected to homophobic bullying - and worse - by the bigger boys. Things look up only when the school's headmistress encourages Marvin to take part in drama class, and that increases the boy's confidence so much that he wins a place at a Paris drama school. However, in the city the now-adult Marvin's emotional stability appears to have gone backward, as he is prone to bursting into tears at the drop of a hat as he remembers his miserable childhood. A meeting with acting legend Isabelle Huppert, however, provides a way forward.

    For me, the big flaw of this film is there is little clue to the passage of time: in the childhood scenes prior to his departure for drama school Marvin appears to be about twelve years old; in the adult scenes he looks at least ten years older, which leads the viewer to wonder why on Earth he is still taking lessons - is he that bad a pupil? I also found the scenes where Marvin delivers quotes direct to camera a bit arty. But a strength is the characters are well-rounded: we see the distress caused to Marvin's family when he stages a play based on his childhood (as this film is apparently based on a true story, Heaven knows what they're feeling now). His father is also shown to have come to terms with his homosexual son, giving him a wedding ring in case he ever marries a boyfriend.

    As a child, Marvin is played by Jules Porier and as an adult by Finnegan Oldfield. Porier is more convincing than most child actors; Oldfield - whose 'lived-in' face looks as if it was drawn by late US comic book artist George Tuska - is natural for most of the time but is too obviously 'acting' when portraying Marvin's own acting efforts - but acting-within-acting must be difficult. Talking of difficult, portraying oneself can not be easy but Huppert (billed as 'with the participation of...') is engaging. Top acting honours in my opinion, however, go to Gr├ęgory Gadebois (seen on British television screens in French chiller 'The Returned') as Marvin's father - in playing a character written as such an awful individual it would be easy to descend into caricature, but Gadebois successfully navigates that line. Also worth mentioning is Catherine Mouchet as the kindly but determined headmistress whose belief in Marvin's abilities propels him on the road to exorcising his inner demons night after night before packed threatres in his self-penned play: every child should have such a teacher.

    Finally, a word about French/British actor Oldfield: it seems he has pulled off the difficult trick of being born in two locations at once. IMDb says he first saw the light of day in East Sussex, while Wikipedia insists it was Paris. Impressive...
  • A coming of age film , done in a different and somewhat unusual way. I do not share the opinion of "Horst in Transition/10th ofJuly 2018" who belittles the whole endeavour as forgettable. Sure, the stories about coming of age are often similar ( the story of "Romeo and Julia " has been told over and over too) and the idea of becoming "liberated" through "art" from a miserable social background-- has been the theme in "Billy Elliot" and "Fame" and many other films too. But I liked the way this film was done with flash-backs, with a slow moving rythm, with impressive actors-especially the poor white trash family, and the sharp contrasts between the heroes former life and the seemingly aimless search for his destiny in Paris among the rich, the "artsy fartsy", the "would be's" and the losers. Having some knowledge of fine arts, theatre and the gay world helps to like that film- It's not a american popcorn blockbuster for the masses !
  • Luxembourger writer-director Anne Fontaine has tackled all kinds of subjects and often attracted big names, recently international ones, to her films. Here she tackles a coming of age drama that appears to be based on a real-life story although no source material is credited. (N.B. When the film was released in the UK it transpired that the screenplay was based on the autobiographical novel "En finir avec Eddy Belleguele." Author Edouard Louis disapproved of the adaptation and did not want to be credited). Sissy schoolboy Marvin grows up to be an actor, who tells his hard-luck story on stage and in print. That's about all there is to it and the tale seems overstretched at nearly two hours; but it's done with great integrity, the screenplay is intelligent, and there are sincere performances from the two actors representing the boy at different ages. The elder Marvin is played by British actor Finnegan Oldfield, who seems only to work in France. Marvin gets to co-star in his play with the great Isabelle Huppert, who has been in three of Fontaine's films. Here she plays herself, which is a strange conceit. Also unusual is the structure, which has flashes forward until grown-up Marvin's story gradually predominates. The film will impress anyone who wants high quality work in all departments but particularly those who were bullied or are being bullied at school for their sexuality. "Reinventing Marvin" is an encouragement to rise above it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Marvin ou la belle ├ęducation" or "Reinventing Marvin" or just "Marvin" is a new French (mostly) French-language film that premiered last year in 2017. It is one of these rare movies that has in the opriginal title the inclusion of an "or" that basically includes two titles. Director is BAFTA nominee Anne Fontaine, perhaps Luxembourg's most known filmmaker these days, and together with Pierre Trividic, she was also in charge of the script. The title and photo here make it obvious already that this is the story of a young man and his attempts at finding happiness and overcoming all kinds of obstacles. These include his ambitions in the world of art, to be more precise his shots at becoming an actor. Another key issue is his homosexuality and how he he deals with it as well as how the most important and closest people in his life deal with that. There is a lot of pain to watch here, many scenes that have great shock potential, especially during the flashback parts, but sadly almost never really make an impact in terms of the overall storytelling component. And that is quite a pity. To me, the outcome was fairly disappointing. It was a really long film at almost 2 hours and I cannot deny it dragged a bit on more than just a few occasions. There also weren't any great moments truly, only a few good ones that elevated the overall product with its many mediocre, frequently weak, sequences. The best parts were maybe those flashback scene that include the family life there, with father, mother and brother, so these characters and their stories and connections to Marvin may be the only reason to watch the movie. But it's not worth to sit through the other 90 minutes I must say. The inclusion of Isabelle Huppert playing herself felt a bit strange to be fair. the idea was interesting, but the execution in terms of both ways in which her character was presented (through the screenplay) and portrayaed by Huppert did not make it memorable at all. There was room for more without a doubt. The ending was also a bit of a disappointment. Apparently, it was really important to Fontaine and Trividic to have the audience leave the theater on a high note, but it all felt so exaggerated, so over-the-top and hardly realistic how basically everything turned right eventually. It also leaves a negative stain on all before that because it just did not fit together with all the backlash and there was no real connection where you would say yes he is that improved now, that headstrong, that dedicated that you could say it fit right in there. So I must say that as a whole I have to give this film a thumbs-down. The forgettable, the negative even, is far more frequent than everything positive. I also found the flashback scenes early on confusing and all over the place. Lead actor Oldfield (yes he played in French films mostly despite the name) received some praise for his portrayal, but I was not impressed. He fits right in with everything else that is forgettable about this movie. I am quite a fan of French movies, but this has to be one of the weakest I've seen in recent months, if not years. The subject alone does not make it a strong movie by any means as some seem to think. Watch something else instead.