Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review of 'Marguerite'

Watched at a cinema in Bath, on a rainy Easter Saturday, partly to get out of the rain.

This is a rather long but very good period drama, loosely based on the life of the American woman Florence Fletcher Jenkins, who thought she was a great singer but wasn't. Curiously, there is another film about her life about to be released, starring Meryl Streep, more closely based on her actual life and apparently much more obviously comic.

The reviews of this one were rather misleading, in that they describe it as a rather light period comedy, but it's actually very painful to watch - about self-delusion, deceit, and the corrupting power of money. The Baroness Marguerite has never been told that she has a dreadful singing voice and appalling technique, and hasn't worked it out for herself. Everyone in her life has an interest in deceiving her about this, including some young blades who think her lack of talent is both powerfully symbolic of something-or-other and screamingly funny.

It builds to a humiliating public performance and then worse for Marguerite, who it's impossible not to like despite everything. It's impossible to like almost everyone else in the film.

It's odd that you wait half a lifetime for a film about such a woman and then two come along at once. For me the film evoked the feelings I associate with impostor syndrome, even though it depicts what seems to be the opposite. Marguerite thinks she has talent even though she doesn't, whereas impostor syndrome is about the feeling that you don't have competence but have thus far fooled everyone - a bit like feeling that you are a Marguerite. Not exactly the same, because impostor-syndrome sufferers don't think that everyone is conspiring to deceive them, but rather that no-one else has realised...

A really good film - looking forward to seeing the other one.

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