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My Father’s Glory

Posted by martinteller on May 23, 2014

The adventures of young Marcel (Julien Ciamaca, for most of the film) growing up in turn-of-the-century France.  Marcel is the son of Joseph (Philippe Caubère), a schoolteacher, and Augustine (Nathalie).  He has a younger brother, Paul (Victorien Delamare), and an infant sister.  His mother’s sister, Rose (Thérèse Liotard), meets an older but charming man named Jules (Didier Pain) in the park and Marcel gains an uncle.  The entire clan rents a villa in a remote desert area and Marcel learns some life lessons… some joyous and some painful.

This film — and its companion piece, My Mother’s Castle — are based on the memoirs of Marcel Pagnol, who himself wrote and/or directed some fine films of his own, including The Baker’s Wife and the Fanny trilogy.  Director Yves Robert keeps his warmth and humor alive in this adaptation.  Although the movie is a very straightforward take on the coming-of-age genre, it has an earnest and heartfelt nostalgia to it that makes it endearing.  Marcel’s childhood is much like any other we’ve seen on film, full of harmless mischief and mini-adventures, evoking that sense of constant discovery that we, as adults, probably amplify in our memories.

And we have seen before the kind of events that Marcel experiences.  He puts his father on a pedestal only to learn disappointment when he doesn’t live up to the image of perfection that was imagined.  He makes his first close friend, a comrade with whom each can share his own stock of learned expertise.  He learns bitter truths about hypocrisy and deception, and learns to practice them himself.  He defies his parents, testing the limits to the point where he almost gets himself into a big spot of trouble.  He feels envy and betrayal.

So perhaps My Father’s Glory isn’t breaking a whole lot of new ground.  But it travels down the well-worn paths with a spring in its step and an irresistible charm.  The performances are all bright and delightful.  None of the adult actors are familiar faces, but none are amateurs either.  They all do admirable work, bringing a light touch to the comedy and a gentle restraint when the material calls for a little pathos.  Ciamaca strikes a nice balance as well… perhaps without the appeal of a Jean-Pierre Leaud, but he handles himself nicely (the younger Delamare is occasionally a bit too arch in his expressions).

With lovely cinematography that highlights the pastoral scenery of the country and the magnificence of the city, it’s a movie that’s hard to dislike.  Its anecdotal structure may not appeal to those who prefer a plot-heavy movie, but episodes like the pheasant hunt are riveting in their own quiet way.  A very pleasant and entertaining picture.  Rating: Very Good (85)


2 Responses to “My Father’s Glory”

  1. vinnieh said

    Nice review, will seek this movie out.

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