MY MOTHER’S CASTLE - Content
MY MOTHER’S CASTLE
From the Dec. 13, 1991, Deseret News
MY MOTHER'S CASTLE — Philippe Caubere, Nathalie Roussel, Julien Ciamaca; in French, with English subtitles; rated PG (mild profanity, mild vulgarity).
"My Mother's Castle" is the perfect follow-up to "My Father's Glory," continuing the story of young city-bred Marcel Pagnol and his love affair with the country, set shortly after the turn of the century.
In "Glory," Marcel's father, a teacher, took the family for an extended summer vacation to a country home and the entire family found the surrounding landscapes, as well as their neighbors and the local traditions, so enchanting they had to tear themselves away at summer's end. But none more so than Marcel, who actually ran into the hills and considered hiding out in a cave.
"Castle" begins right where "Glory" left off as the family reluctantly returns to the city, with Marcel impossibly plotting in his mind a way to get back to the country sooner than the next summer. As fate — and the desires of his mother — would have it, the first vacation opportunity brings them back at Christmastime. They also return for Easter and other holidays until, at last, they decide to escape to the country each and every weekend.
This leads to their encounter with a former pupil of Marcel's father, a "canal spiker" who offers them a way to cut eight hours from their weekly nine-hour walk by cutting through the rich estates that reside along the canal path. To do so, however, they must unobtrusively get past the owners, who aren't crazy about having their land intruded upon. This is the main thrust of the film, a simple plot that takes on overtones of mystery, intrigue and humor.
Like "Glory," "Castle" unfolds in episodic fashion: Marcel is reunited with his best friend, Lili; Marcel is smitten with an obnoxious girl who has very eccentric parents, including her drunken father, whose every sentence rhymes (played as a very effective cameo by French star Jean Rochefort); etc.
The actors from "Glory" return here and are used very well. There's a wonderful blend of family togetherness, genuine love and affection, sprightly comedy (including a hysterically funny encounter with a groundskeeper) and touching pathos.
The film ends with a series of heartfelt images as the narration explains what happened to various members of Marcel's family over the next few years. These are the tragedies that mix with joyous moments to make up our lives, Marcel explains.
The performances are uniformly excellent, with Philippe Caubere as the father, Nathalie Roussel as the mother and young Julien Ciamaca as Marcel.
"Glory" and "Castle" are based on "Memories of Childhood," which consists of autobiographical stories by Marcel Pagnol, a filmmaker, playwright and author (he wrote the books "Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring").
Co-writer/director Yves Robert is best known for lightweight farce ("The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe," "Pardon Mon Affaire" and their sequels) but "Glory" and "Castle" firmly establish him as a filmmaker of great talent and sensitivity. These are the films by which he will be known from now on.
"My Mother's Castle" is a most satisfying second half of Marcel Pagnol's story — to call it a sequel somehow seems demeaning.
Here's hoping it doesn't get overlooked as moviegoers trample each other heading for the big Christmas films.
It is rated PG for a couple of mild profanities and a mild vulgarity or two.