Hans Christian Anderson's Emperor's New Clothes is the closest analogy I can think of to describe the essence of Marguerite. Who would dare tell the deluded Baroness that her dream to be an operatic sensation was all in her mind? Xavier Giannoli is the director and screenplay writer extraordinaire of this intriguing piece of cinematography based on the true story of Marguerite Dumont. Award-winning actress Catherine Frot is deserving of this honour for her wonderful role as Marguerite. The audience is attracted by her beauty, her energy and her self-belief despite her inability to hold a tune.
Paris in the 1920s is luxurious and decadent and the audience could get lost in all the visual temptations of this clever film. There is a fine line between the avant-garde, mainstream operatic performance and the ridicule at work in this film, and while on the surface it seems tragic for Marguerite, she is not the only tragic life interwoven into the plot.
Silvain Dieuaide who plays a much younger arts critic Lucien Beaumont, is draw like a moth to light at the very sight of Marguerite. Yet his eyes and critical ears are drawn to the younger beauty of Felicite la Barbue (Sophia Leboutte), who sings like an angel. Felicite launches her career with the 'Flower duet' by Lakme (also familiar as the British Airways boarding tune). She develops quite a different repertoire and style of singing, perhaps references music by Igor Stravinsky who was composing at the time. A true voice evolves and another faces the music.
It is refreshing that movie-goers can go to see a film like Marguerite that acknowledges a level of intelligence in the audience. Those who have an understanding of this era of culture and who appreciate characters of substance, musical repertoire and the emotional power behind the writer's intent will not be disappointed. Don't be put off by the small audience this movie might attract. You will definitely belong to a special club if you choose this movie. Phoenix Picturehouse advised me before entering that the screen would be reduced from the regular 'blockbuster size' for this movie. I think this was a clever device; a much more intimate screening to draw you into Marguerite's magic.