Saturday, 9 April 2016

REVIEW - MARGUERITE (XAVIER GIANNOLI)


The biopic, with facts replaced by fiction, historical accuracy and accountability shed. Marguerite is a malleable proposition, able to be twisted and turned into a product of its creators' choosing. You can choose too, whether to make the most of this unusually ambitious period piece and be underwhelmed, or to regard it as just another simple, selective portrait of a historical figure (albeit a fictional one) and be pleasantly surprised. There's much to Marguerite, though only if you desire it - the film perhaps operates better as the kind of pedestrian biopic whose conventions it often relies upon to fill in the gaps between its moments of relative inspiration, and possibly to imbue it with a degree of artistic authenticity. The only real artistry in Marguerite is to be found when Xavier Giannoli indulges that inspiration, and acknowledges the power to be procured from fictionalising fact. The film works splendidly as a sombre commentary upon insidious societal oppression, the disturbances and the deviance it draws out in its victims; also upon the creation, the character and the purpose of art, which Giannoli and co-writer Marcia Romano posit only exists thanks to the oppressed. The delightfully oblivious Marguerite comes to cherish her suffering - a perverse about-face for the character and for the film alike, as her awareness seemingly flourishes and crumbles simultaneously. We're encouraged to laugh at this sorry figure, yet also to feel sorry for her, and thereby question our own cruelty in responding as we did to the unavoidably comical scenes of her singing. And all in this pretty package: Giannoli's faithfulness to the structure and the style of the biopic undoes much of the good work he's done elsewhere. Fact may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is so much sweeter than fact.