[Films Review] My Father’s Glory (1990) and My Mother’s Castle (1990)

My Father’s Glory, My Mother’s Castle posters.jpg

English Title: My Father’s Glory
Original Title: La glorie de mon père
Year: 1990
Country: France
Language: French, Occitan
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama
Director: Yves Robert
Writers: Yves Robert, Jérôme Tonnerre, Louis Nucéra
based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol
Music: Vladimir Cosma
Cinematography: Robert Alazraki, Christophe Beaucarne, Eric Vallée, Paco Wiser
Cast:
Julien Ciamaca
Philippe Caubère
Didier Pain
Nathalie Roussel
Thérèse Liotard
Victorien Delamare
Joris Molinas
Benoît Martin
Paul Crauchet
Jean-Pierre Darras
Victor Garrivier
Michael Modo
Jean Rougerie
Rating: 7.7/10

My Father’s Glory 1990.jpg

English Title: My Mother’s Castle
Original Title: La château de ma mère
Year: 1990
Country: France
Language: French, Occitan
Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama, Comedy
Director: Yves Robert
Writers: Yves Robert, Jérôme Tonnerre
based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol
Music: Vladimir Cosma
Cinematography: Robert Alazraki
Cast:
Julien Ciamaca
Philippe Caubère
Nathalie Roussel
Julie Timmerman
Philippe Uchan
Didier Pain
Michel Modo
Thérèse Liotard
Victorien Delamare
Joris Molinas
Paul Crauchet
Jean-Pierre Darras
Patrick Préjean
Jean Carmet
Jean Rochefort
Georges Wilson
Rating: 7.8/10

My Mother's Castle 1990.jpg

French filmmaker Yves Robert’s cinematic diptych of his compatriot and progenitor, Marcel Pagnol’s two autobiographic novels, MY FATHER’S GLORY and MY MOTHER’S CASTLE dearly reminisces about its author’s belle-époque childhood when his family spends their vacation in the Provence hills of southern France, right out of the box, accompanied by Jean-Pierre Darras’ lilting voice-over to gloss its lyrical narrative with personal thoughts.

Both films are shot back-in-back with the same cast, and exclusively told through the standpoint of a young Marcel (first played by a ludic Benoît Martin, then the meat of it is played by a rather handsome Julien Ciamaca, at the age around 11 and further on), they are undeniably charming and congenial with a leisurely pace, jaunty mood and pastoral landscape (including a striking lightning and landslide shot during a tempest), all saturated with Vladimir Cosma’s dulcet tuneage. Starting from the union of Marcel’s public school teacher father Joseph (an upstanding Caubère) and her seamstress mother Augustine (Roussel, frail and demure), the story takes delight in many small wonders bobbing up every now and then, from Marcel’s preternatural literacy, to the courtship between his auntie Rose (a slightly kooky Liotard) and a rotund functionary Jules (Pain, gregarious and jolly), meandering into the customary raillery between a hardened atheist Julien and the church-goer Jules, when he becomes Marcel’s uncle.

Things change for Marseilles-dwelling Marcel when his horizon is suddenly widened by the mountainous verdure and natural gorgeousness that totally grips his attention, on the hills, he meets his best friend Lili des Bellons (Molinas), who is a walking encyclopedia about country life. And the title MY FATHER’S GLORY refers to a hunting jaunt taken by Joseph and Jules, with Marcel secretly and apprehensively trailing behind because he fears for the impending humiliation that awaits his father, when the latter will be humbled by a hunting-savvy Jules, only thanks to a man-of-letter’s sleight of hand, Joseph’s dignity is incredibly saved by a quirk of fate, he harvests two rare rock partridges (bartavelle in French) and becomes the toast of the village. Gratifying at first glance, the whole instance emanates a tincture of undue paternal worship or self-centered vanity that unwholesomely preoccupies a young boy’s psyche, one cannot simply read it as a lucky triumph as it seems is this reviewer’s discernment.

MY FATHER’S GLORY ends up with the finish of their first family vacation in the hills, and MY MOTHER’S CASTLE continues with more visits to the same lot, a fetching episode where Marcel comes across an uppity young girl Isabelle (a roundly precocious Julia Timmerman) and her eccentric parents, serves as his first crush but at the expense of putting the girl under ridicule. Finally, the family facilitates a workaround to spend every weekend in the countryside house, and their trekking is further foreshortened by a short-cut that entails trespassing several private properties, including one is guarded by a repugnant caretaker with a broken leg (Carmet) and an old but gigantic dog, it doesn’t need much to convert Joseph’s pedantic mind to avail themselves to the more convenient route, and their biweekly adventures do whet audience’s curiosity as the inevitable encounter will sooner or later catch up with them, and again, solving the problem needs some exaggerated artistic license.

Reality kicks in the very end, when the destiny of Augustine, Paul (Delamore), Marcel’s younger brother and Lili is spelled out with enough pathos to guarantee that Marcel’s final dedication to his mother beautifully hits the high mark of melancholia and sublimity that defines Robert’s bewitching if friction-free pastoral that heightens a boy’s petulant flights of fancy.

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2 thoughts on “[Films Review] My Father’s Glory (1990) and My Mother’s Castle (1990)

  1. Pingback: [Film Review] Harvest (1937) – Cinema Omnivore

  2. Pingback: [Film Review] The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1972) – Cinema Omnivore

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