Sunday, 21 April 2019

Opera blockbuster’s hitting the wry notes

THE first of two films inspired by the life of a true musical eccentric opens

THE first of two films inspired by the life of a true musical eccentric opens at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse today (Friday).

Marguerite is a French take on the story of Florence Foster Jenkins — a New York heiress who became an opera singer notorious for her lack of rhythm, pitch or tone, but whose spirited performances were nevertheless enjoyed and admired by many.

“People may say I can’t sing,” she once said, “but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

Coming later this year is Stephen Frears’s biographical comedy-drama Florence Foster Jenkins, with Meryl Streep in the lead role.

Marguerite, meanwhile, has proved a runaway success in France, with more than a million tickets sold to date.

The year is 1921. Not far from Paris, a party is being held at the famous Marguerite Dumont’s mansion. Nobody knows much about the mysterious Marguerite — except that she has devoted her whole life to her passion: music. As she takes centre stage, she sings enthusiastically but terribly out of tune.

When a provocative young journalist decides to write a rave article on her latest performance, Marguerite starts to believe even further in her talent.

This gives her the courage she needs to follow her dream — to perform in front of a crowd of complete strangers.

Featuring a powerhouse performance from Catherine Frot and music from Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi, Marguerite is a touching and lighthearted feast for the ears that will live in your heart long after the credits roll.

The film’s writer-director, Xavier Giannoli, said: “I love characters that are single-minded and obsessive by nature. They carry the whole film along with their personality and give it tension, pace and perspective.

“Marguerite is living her passion — she experiences the joys and the suffering that go hand in hand with a life dedicated to music. She sings completely out of tune yet she expresses a furious desire.”

Clare Binns, programming and acquisitions director at Picturehouse Cinemas, said: “I found Giannoli’s story both funny and heartbreaking, and I am delighted to bring this film from a top European director to cinemas in the UK.”

Matthew Wilson

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