Set in the rural 16th century French southwest, Martin Guerre - a young newly married illiterate peasant - abandons his village, wife and newborn son. Talk about nosy neighbors. Martin was reluctant to consummate the marriage. This quickly became a humiliating source of hot gossip about town. With my 21st century take it occurs to me the authentic Martin could be a hunky closeted gay man being pressured into marriage due to his family's reduced lot in life.
Son of a widow, the implication is Martin is of meager means marrying an equally attractive woman of fine character with a generous dowry. My hunch is reinforced by the plot twist that he prefers to hang out with soldiers by the river trading stories rather than working the fields during a crucial time in the harvest. It's not much of a surprise when a couple of bags of flour go missing about the time he disappears from the scene.
Becoming a soldier has always been one way to plug into an idealized version of the truth and flee present circumstances. The surprise comes nine years later when he returned home. Something seemed out of character - almost too good to be true. This Martin was a more lusty, loquacious and gregarious version of the previous man. Could this be a case of an impostor?
This new improved version of Guerre was fresh from battle. His last name was a play on words because it is the French word for war, but with whom? Martin's selective amnesia is suspicious. His plausible excuse is confusion from being overwhelmed with joy. This Martin seemed motivated to reclaim his past life or was there foul play afoot? The fantastic tales of time spent travelling with the army held as a diversionary tactic for a time.
Martin's wife and family eagerly welcome him at first. It's not hard to be wowed by him. He's wonderful inside and out. Nevertheless, the problem is truth has a squirrelly way of revealing itself over time. The rumor mill comes alive again. Doubt is being sown alongside the wheat germ about the man’s identity as evidence mounts repudiating his claims. Soon the family turns against him. A court room drama medieval style unfolds. Martin is put on trial, compelled to prove the authenticity of his identity.
As the French proverb goes, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." In other words, "the more things change the more they stay the same." It appears the issue of identity theft is as hot a topic today as it was 600 years ago.
The last ten minutes of KPCC's FilmWeek is devoted to a great roundtable review.
Cohen Media Group presents this gorgeous new 4K restoration of a 1982 classic featuring Nathalie Baye and Gerard Depardieu, one the most beloved and prolific French actors of all time.
DIRECTED BY: Daniel Vigne
WRITTEN BY: Jean-Claudecarrière and Daniel Vigne
STARRING: Gérard Depardieu, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu and Bertrande de Rols
OPENING IN LA & NY *FOR A ONE WEEK SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT* starting
FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2019
LA OPENING THEATER, Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Running Time: 123 mins
Language: French with English Subtitles
Tara Fass, LMFT #35078, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, California. She treats adults and couples dealing with a broad range of issues from navigating the legacy of divorce in one's life, to the quarter life crisis and conscious aging. Together we attempt to make meaning [...]