Marguerite & Julien
In an orphanage by night, the little girls are refusing to sleep and their equally young leader (Esther Garrel) decides to tell them a famous story they all know: the love between two aristocratic siblings, so powerful and impossible that they try to override society’s restrictions and outrage. Picking it up from there, director Valérie Donzelli creates a romantic, tragic, but life-affirming tale based on actual events in the 17th century. With little interest in an accurate reconstruction, Donzelli instead presents her adaptation of Jean Gruault’s script (once intended for François Truffaut) as a bright and timeless love story. In this shape, the narrative of Marguerite and Julien de Ravalet becomes as universal as it is outrageous, a pop ballad with chevaliers and helicopters, fairytale elements with modern aesthetics and an unconstrained soundtrack.
Julien (Jérémie Elkaïm) and Marguerite (Anaïs Demoustier) grow up in the safe environs of their noble family’s castle in Tourlaville. Accomplices in childhood, their affection grows into something taboo, whereupon their parents decide to separate them and send Julien to a boarding school. After his return, he has seen the world and grown aware of the implications of their feelings. Where Marguerite’s growing devotion remains untainted and – in a way – innocent, Julien tries to control his desire, knowing that condemnation will be inevitable. Suppressing this love, however, is eating him up. When she is finally forced into an unhappy marriage, he can no longer keep himself from fighting for their passion and rescuing his sister to fully live their impossible desires.
Marguerite et Julien chooses eclectic elements, spanning all eras, and remixes them all into one big, bursting, baroque beauty of a love story. The most refreshing aspect of the movie is that it doesn’t judge this feverish love; even the family’s – particularly the parent’s – reaction to their doomed children’s behaviour is not depicted in a stereotypic way. Everyone is at a loss. There is no moralising and thus even the inevitable outcome doesn’t feel so sad. Marguerite & Julien succeeds as a weird, vivacious fairytale of incest, with two beautiful, talented lead actors.
Marguerite & Julien does not yet have a UK release date.
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