MARGUERITE ET JULIEN, which comes out this week, had everyone talking before its premiere at the 2015 Cannes Festival–the story deals with incest, after all, a taboo subject which should probably always remain taboo. Adapted from an original screenplay written by Jean Gruault for none other than French new wave master François Truffaut, MARGUERITE ET JULIEN stars French actors Jérémie Elkaïm and Anaïs Demoustier, two actors who are a part of of France’s new generation.
MARGUERITE ET JULIEN of Ravalet, France, are brothers and sisters. They’re very close to each other, their passion for one another leading them astray into some really unhealthy love fest. People from their community, understandably shocked, view them like criminals and measures are taken, attempts are made to correct the situation. Alas, no can do, Marguerite and Julien love each other too much to bits.
With a cutesy overzealousness to take risks and inject originality in her storytelling filmmaker Valérie Donzelli, one of France’s brightest filmmakers, actually ends up revealing the limit of her adaptation very quickly. She presents some film sequences as still images and uses hollow anachronisms, making MARGUERITE AND JULIEN ultimately ridiculous. The still images really are, probably, Donzelli’s worse idea. MARGUERITE ET JULIEN ends up becoming a hodgepodge of bad-good ideas, a shame since there were so many different ways to approach this unusual drama. Donzelli just made wrong choices. But that’s not all.
Bad directing begets bad acting so it’s a sad state of affair to watch the very talented Anaïs Demoustier turn out what is an underwhelming performance. Her Marguerite lacks soul. Jérémie Elkaïm, an average actor at best, is blank-faced and hollow throughout. It’s as if he’s holding back, not inhabiting his character completely.
Not altogether devoid of interesting scenes MARGUERITE ET JULIEN is nevertheless too light on substance to come out as a fully-realized film. Better luck next time, Valérie Donzelli? Hope springs eternal.
MARGUERITE ET JULIEN comes out this Friday.