1990's, Biographical Drama, Didier Pain, Foreign Language Film, Joris Molinas, Julien Ciamaca, Marcel Pagnol, My Mother's Castle, Nathalie Roussel, Philippe Caubère, Philippe Uchan, Thérèse Liotard, Yves Robert
My Mother’s Castle
- Julien Ciamaca as Marcel Pagnol
- Philippe Caubère as Joseph Pagnol
- Nathalie Roussel as Augustine Pagnol
- Philippe Uchan as Bouzigue
- Didier Pain as Uncle Jules
- Thérèse Liotard as Aunt Rose
- Joris Molinas as Lili
A continuation of Marcel Pagnol’s childhood memories in turn of the century France, My Mother’s Castle provides a heartfelt and irresistible companion piece to My Father’s Glory. Filled with heartfelt moments and loving technical work, particularly in the locations and cinematography, My Mother’s Castle is just spellbinding and charming in equal measure.
This film picks up after the summer adventure that framed the first movie with the adult Marcel still narrating his eventful childhood. Marcel is a little older now, but still yearns for the beloved hills that brought so much joy to him. Yet as he is getting older there is pressures to grow up, especially in school as he has been selected to take part in a competition for a scholarship to secondary school. The memory of the summer home is never far from his mind, and he is finally granted his wish when he and his family; teacher father Joseph, gentle mother Augustine, little brother Paul and toddler sister Germaine. The experience is once more wonderful for the young Marcel, who reconnects with old chum Lili and discovers many other things, among the nature and games he takes part in. Chief among these is the pangs of a first crush on pretentious girl named Isabelle, who treats Marcel like a slave as he tries to please her but is blinded by the girl he sees as loving. Yet these feelings fizzle out when Marcel sees how haughty she is, but nothing dims his love of the Provence countryside. But, there are problems because the path the family takes whenever they visit the summer house in the hills is a long and arduous one that goes around many rich estates and they unfortunately have to scale to a minimum. Hope comes in the jovial form of Bouzigue, a former student of Joseph’s who works on the canals that back on to the properties. As a favour, he gives the family a key that lets them go through the doors that link the properties and in turn cut their journey down to much less than before. Danger is present with the prospect of getting caught by anyone of the landowners(many of whom are eccentrics), but it’s still all part of the adventure for Marcel and his family as they venture through more frequently. Yet with him now growing up and approaching adolescence, how long will the adventures continue for the young and imaginative Marcel?
Yves Robert directs once more and brings out all the love, charm and wit of Marcel’s young years to the screen with panache and care. To say that My Mother’s Castle is a sequel is to do it a disservice( both films were made back to back after all), as it is a continuation of the first film and one that is just as good as it. My Mother’s Castle is less episodic than My Father’s Glory, but is just as compelling as it deals with more emotions than the first as Marcel continues to grow and observe the world around him. There is still a big amount of warmth to the film, it just deals with Marcel approaching adolescence and seeing the complexities of life. All of this is done with the most astonishing care and love, helped by the sprightly direction that knows when to slow down and gives us insights into the characters. By this point, we have come to love the characters(including the talkative and slightly pompous Uncle Jules and loving Aunt Rose who appear again) and for me to say that seeing the family once more wasn’t enjoyable, would be for me to lie. The film manages to have both a healthy amount of drama and comedy, with Marcel’s struggles to grow up, his families attempts to not be caught sneaking through the gardens of the houses and his pining for the stuck up Isabelle all highlights of the two genres. Colour abounds from every frame within My Mother’s Castle, signifying both the impish adventure of childhood and ultimately the time when we must all become a lot more serious and focus on what lies ahead for us. And it must be stated that while there is so much fun to be had, the film doesn’t forget the emotional pull. As it concludes and Marcel reflects for the last time, I think everyone who sees this film will at least have a tear in their eye as the emotions and heartfelt impact of the piece is palpable. Splendid music, laced with a certain melancholy reflecting the transition from young boy to young man is once more a beautifully brought together treat.
Once again, we have the wonderous cast in superb roles that fit them all like gloves. In the lead of the growing Marcel, Julien Ciamaca impresses again with his natural delivery and abundance of charm. The character of Marcel is now a little wiser yet still unaware of certain things in life and Ciamaca brings out the clinging onto childhood and the knowledge of adolescence to great effect in a touching performance. Philippe Caubère as the bespectacled father and Nathalie Roussel as the loving mother are wonderfully paired and exhibit just the right amount of care and fairness to their respective roles within the scheme of things. The new addition to the cast of colourful characters of Marcel’s childhood, Philippe Uchan is all good heart and jovial tendencies playing the kind former student of Joseph, who provides the family with the means to visit the country idyll as much as they like. And with Didier Pain, Thérèse Liotard and Joris Molinas returning, you can’t really ask for more from this heartening movie.
With the added heft of adolescent moments that shape Marcel’s life but also the hope of a child’s memories and treasures, My Mother’s Castle emerges as a wholly moving experience and when coupled with My Father’s Glory, an utterly dazzling and lovely experience.