(TORONTO, ON) – At best, I am not a verbose movie critic. I try to avoid summaries and perhaps offer insight beyond the descriptive.
For Marie’s Story, about the best advice I have in practical terms is bring lots of Kleenex. If you are a tough guy, trained to keep your emotions in check, leave the theatre before the credits roll to avoid the red eye.
The French movie industry is, perhaps, the world’s best. That is the impression the organizers of Toronto’s Cinéfranco usually leave us with. There are a few clunkers, for sure, but very few. Marie’s Story is a new French style, to me, replete with sadness from start to finish.
Here is the summary.
Poor, deaf, mute, and blind wild young girl Marie Heurtin is taken to a convent for deaf mutes, but she is also blind and animalistic. Sister Marguerite is inspired to take action and calm Marie the wild beast.
However, Sister Marguerite is close to death with TB, but takes Marie under her wing. Love, devotion, determination, innovation, passion, and a life draining energy transforms a wild animal into an educated and sensitive young lady.
The journey from savagery to normalcy is difficult to watch and, at times, looks all but lost. But with an initial small victory, Marie is suddenly transformed into an eager and willing-to-learn young lady; not just for the sake of learning but for the sake of experiencing life.
You can surmise the conclusion but, despite its awful sadness, isn’t there a bit of joy?
Through suffering comes redemption. A common theme, but done very beautifully in Marie’s Story.
Excellent script, haunting cinematography, and a first rate soundtrack.
French cinema outdoes Hollywood; consistently and effortlessly. This is an emotional film, so be prepared. Right from the beginning. A remake of Helen Keller?
Isabelle Carré delivers as Marie, as well as Ariana Rivoire, who handles transformation from wild animal to prim young lady more than adequately.
(Marie’s Story (Marie Heurtin), France 2014, 95 minutes, Director Jean Pierre Améris, French with English Subtitles, English Canada Premiere, 14 April 2015, 9:00 pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, Part of Cinéfranco 2015)