FFF18 Reinventing Marvin27th February, 2018
With this captivating coming-of-age drama, writer-director Anne Fontaine propagates a message imbued in her previous work, Coco Before Chanel (2009) – that nothing is predestined and powerful people can escape what they are born into. Marvin Bijou (Jules Porier) is singled out for being ‘different’ and relentlessly bullied during his school years in rural France.
His working class family proves equally unsympathetic and, although his father (a superb Grégory Gadebois, Heatwave, AF FFF2016) never raises a hand to his son. Marvin’s reinvention as Martin Clément (Finnegan Oldfield,
Bang Gang, AF FFF2016) starts with his middle school principal, Madeleine Clément (Catherine Mouchet), who introduces him to the theatre and whose name he adopts as a symbol of his salvation. Then, his mentor, Abel Pinto
(Vincent Macaigne, from Anne Fontaine’s previous film The Innocents, AF FFF2016; and C’est la vie! in this year’s Opening Night), encourages Martin to take his story to the stage. Told in flashbacks and flashforwards, this is a multi-layered fable that avoids reducing Martin’s coming out to one of
mere rainbows. Most extraordinary is Isabelle Huppert, who makes an enlightening and audacious appearance here as herself – the good fairy who steers Martin’s journey into Parisian theatre.