Marius Et Jeannette

Robert Guédiguian's Marius Et Jeannette is a biting sociopolitical commentary in the guise of a romantic comedy. In some respects, similarities exist between the film and Il Postino, but the former rarely falls for the latter's flat sentimentality. Ariane Ascaride (Guédiguian's wife) plays a brash, middle-aged supermarket worker who supports two kids from two marriages. Her loud declamations of capitalism cost her her job, but she finds solace in Gérard Meylan, a guard at the cement plant near her home. The romance is perfunctory, but it's intriguing how Guédiguian, a former Communist activist, raises leftist issues of class, welfare, workers' rights, and religion, and points out some failings of capitalism, especially as it pertains to France's high unemployment rate. Guédiguian dedicates his film to the anonymous workers of the Estaque in Marseilles, and the way his characters unfailingly find humor in their troubled lives—especially the way they defend the soon-to-be-demolished cement plant as a historic monument—is a touching tribute.

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