LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: REINVENTING MARVIN

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: REINVENTING MARVIN – the latest feature from Anne Fontaine – screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT). Here’s our writeup.

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: REINVENTING MARVIN from director Anne Fontaine screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).
LFF17: REINVENTING MARVIN screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).

REINVENTING MARVIN (2016, France, 115min)

REINVENTING MARVIN is a tale about difference and how we construct new destinies for ourselves as we grow up and (inevitably) change. Anne Fontaine stages her film in two different periods of young Marvin’s life. The first deals with his struggles in the early years of secondary school. The second has him maturing into a young man finding his feet (and treading the boards) in Paris. Fontaine intercuts between the two, stressing repetition and contrast as their experiences mirror and diverge. The Marvins appear to be in poetic dialogue, looking back at and learning from each other.

“If being a fag was a mental illness then I couldn’t be a fag because I wasn’t crazy.”

The scenes in the younger boy’s life are set in rural France with a volatile working class family. His schools days are even worse, fraught with violent sexual assault that Fontaine shows in unflinching detail. Jules Porier’s performance as the younger Marvin is the highlight of the film, often staring in silence at the miserable world around him. Closely matching his intensity, but from a different end of the spectrum, is Grégory Gadebois as his blustering, aggressive father. Dany is a man lost in his own life, determined not to replicate the abuse of his own father – “Did I ever hit?” – but unaware of how to help his offspring grow.

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: REINVENTING MARVIN from director Anne Fontaine screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).

LFF17: REINVENTING MARVIN screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).

“I sound like the people I love.”

Older Marvin (Finnegan Oldfield – NOCTURAMA) is a more problematic affair as we only get episodic accounts of his life in Paris. These sections of the film are fraught with the clichés of gay fiction: the high arts, expensive apartments, predatory older men, fast cars and sympathetic surrogates. None of this is new but then Fontaine throws in Isabelle Hupert playing in cameo as herself (or, at least, the slightly drunk, flirty, disco-dancing version…). Things shift up a gear. Finding sympathy for one of his sugar daddy’s many “stray cats”, Hupert takes Marvin (now Martin) under her wing: “If you need me just meow… even from afar”. Their relationship leads to the two appearing in a stage production of Marvin’s life story.

This self-penned orgy of operatic excess appears in stark contrast with the more muted scenes of Mavin’s early life. However, by rendering his struggle for self-reliance as a Greek tragedy, Fontaine has simply turned up the poetic volume. The stakes are high in the eternal games we must play to be(come) ourselves.

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: REINVENTING MARVIN from director Anne Fontaine screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).

LFF17: REINVENTING MARVIN screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).

As (festival) luck would have it, this was our second film of the day about absent sons – one from the parent’s point of view (LITTLE CRUSADER) and one from the son himself (REINVENTING MARVIN). Both deal with what happens when familial relationships are fractured and how we rebuild our futures, with or without them.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

  • Find REINVENTING MARVIN, Anne Fontaine, Finnegan Oldfield and Isabelle Huppert on IMDb.
  • REINVENTING MARVIN screened in the CREATE strand at the BFI London Film Festival: “Films that channel the electricity of the creative process, celebrating artistic expression in all its forms.”
  • Tim Robey (BFI Programme Adviser) and director Anne Fontaine introduced the screening. They joined the audience for a Q&A after the film.
  • The film is inspired by the 2014 novel The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis and won the Queer Lion Award at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
  • Don’t just take our blogging word for it: THE UP COMING rather liked it.
  • Read our London Film Festival preview here and our daily writeups here.

Featured images: REINVENTING MARVIN (2016).

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: REINVENTING MARVIN from director Anne Fontaine screened at Ciné Lumière (09 OCT).

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