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My Mother’s Castle

Posted by martinteller on May 30, 2014

Picking up where My Father’s Glory left off, the companion film (a “sequel” only in the literal sense, the two were clearly produced as a unit) finds Marcel returning to school after summer vacation and being chosen to compete for a prestigious scholarship.  Subjected to intense study, he longs for the country life in Provence.  The family returns for the Christmas holiday, and again for Easter.  Marcel meets a girl named Isabelle (Julie Timmerman) and is smitten with her noble air.  His first crush turns sour, however, when he realizes she’s been putting on airs and mistreating him.  Still, he enjoys life in the pastoral hills, and soon the family is making the trip every weekend.  They are forced to endure a lengthy hike to skirt around private estates… until they come across Bouzigue (Philippe Uchan), a former pupil of Marcel’s father Joseph.  Bouzigue inspects the canal that runs through the estates, and he furnishes the Pagnol clan with a key.  Now they can save four hours of hiking every week, but the danger of being caught in their intrigue looms over them.

This film is a bit less anecdotal than its predecessor.  The first half hour is largely devoted to Isabelle — a most unpleasant character, but purposely so — and the last hour focuses almost entirely on the sneaking through the estates.  But the film maintains the rustic charm of the previous one.  There are fewer “life lessons” being learned by Marcel (although he gets a healthy education in pretension from Isabelle) and more focus on leisurely adventure.  It’s light and funny and sweet.  Tonally, both films remind me a lot of Roald Dahl’s “Danny the Champion of the World”.  There’s a lovely nostalgia at play that isn’t overly precious.  The stories being told are simple, but they’re told with a casual liveliness that’s very pleasant to watch.

The movie ends with a poignant epilogue that nicely puts Marcel Pagnol’s childhood in some context.  Both films are very much worth seeking out.  Rating: Very Good (84)


One Response to “My Mother’s Castle”

  1. vinnieh said

    I’ve just got these films on DVD and will definitely watch them soon.

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