MARIUS (Mongrel, 2013) D: Daniel Auteuil, w/ Raphaël Personnaz, Victoire Bélézy. Rating: NNN; DVD package: none; FANNY (Mongrel, 2013) D: Auteuil, w/ Bélézy, Auteuil. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: none Rating: NNN
Marius and Fanny are the first two movies in an old-fashioned romance saga filled with light comedy and serious heartbreak. The third part, Cesar, has been announced.
In 1920s Marseilles, Fanny (Victoire Bélézy), who sells shellfish by the quay, and Marius (Raphaël Personnaz), who works in his father's bar across the street, have been friends since childhood. Now, at 18, they're in love. Fanny knows it, but Marius keeps pretending otherwise, unwilling to commit because his real consuming passion is to become a sailor and see the world.
At the same time, Fanny has compelling practical reasons to marry her other suitor, the older, rich Panisse (Jean-Pierre Darroussin). Her mother (Marie-Anne Chazel) would be happy with either match, but Marius's father (director Daniel Auteuil) favours his son.
Personnaz and Bélézy make very appealing young lovers, and Auteuil, Darroussin and Chazel give finely tuned performances that merge comedy and drama and contribute much to the movies' sense of community. Marius and Fanny's troubles are public knowledge, so personal and familial reputations are on the line.
Picturesque settings and beautiful Mediterranean light create an almost fairy-tale charm that suggests all will be well in the end, even when the story says otherwise.
EXTRAS French audio. English subtitles.