Marie-Jo et ses deux amours

Like all of Robert Guediguian’s films (Marius et Jeannette, À la place du coeur, La Ville est tranquille), Marie-Jo is set in the director’s beloved Marseilles. But this is a more personal and relaxed work than most its predecessors. Leaving behind many of the tensions which gave his earlier work its political character, Guediguian turns inward to tell the story of a happily marreid woman and mother who embarks on an affair. Marie-Jo (Ariane Ascaride) is a middle-aged woman whose husband Daniel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) runs a small construction business. Daniel adores his wife, quietly luxuriating in her presence, and she reciprocates. On the surface, all seems right with the marriage, but there are darker currents running through their life together. Marie-Jo becomes involved with a ship’s pilot (Gerard Meylan) who works for the harbour authority. He loves her and is deeply affectionate. She finds herself torn between the two men; she loves them equally and wishes that life could be frozen, so that her present state of bliss might continue endlessly.
Guediguian has directed a mature film about infidelity. Marie-Jo is remarkably free of histrionics or melodrama, its central trio too sensible and perhaps too middle-aged to engage in senseless tirades. It portrays with unfaltering sensitivity the choices that are forced upon each of the three protagonists as they try to live with the hands they have been dealt. Rarely have the dimensions of love been so richly portrayed in all their variety.

France, 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 124 mins.

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