Monday, 25 July 2016

REVIEW - MARGUERITE & JULIEN (VALERIE DONZELLI)


A bold, thoughtless experimental work from a director who might have taken the care to test her experiments out beforehand were she a smarter stylist. Valerie Donzelli runs on ambition and intuition alone in Marguerite & Julien; ideas and inspiration abound, but mostly untethered to any particular tenet of the film's core concerns. Even where one detects some degree of connection between concept (the multitudinous anachronistic details) and purpose (evoking a sense of timelessness in the love story), one does not detect any similar degree of substance to the connection - it's juvenile and lacking proper form. The film exists on no solid ground, an exercise in flimsy silliness - there's a soap opera quality to the controversial plot and its melodrama-courting extremities of emotion, though bereft of the spectacular commitment that many such soaps or telenovelas invest in service of their storylines, Donzelli thus betrays the very nature of her project. Rather, it often seems like the loose, frantic daydreams of a romantic adolescent, with even the awkward half-heartedness of a teenager's uneducated embrace of sexuality. In this regard, Donzelli truly strikes a miss: Marguerite & Julien is pure taboo, suffused with salacity from start to finish. Here, the taboo is broken early and often, though generally only in theory, or in indirect discussion. The openness negates the essential scandalousness of the subject by largely not following through on it, instead leaving it unacknowledged, thereby failing either to maintain the taboo (and so fatally dismantling the controversiality) or to deconstruct it (and so perpetuating it). Points for trying something different, though the actual act of 'trying' is in dispute.