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FLICKS: Marguerite & Miracles from Heaven

Posted on 31 March 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


They don’t have much talent, but they got a lot of guts,” said my Aunt Virginia about a garage concert my cousins and I held on a backyard in Westfield, New Jersey, circa 1990. Encouraged by a family reunion and fueled by a keg of beer, we sang all forms of American tunes and Italian folk music. We were good, or so we thought. The video revealed a definite lack of vocal talent.

Set in an age before the advent of video recording (early 20th Century), Marguerite features a protagonist who believes she is an opera diva. Unfortunately for Marguerite (Catherine Frot), she is tone deaf and she cannot hear the limitations of her vocal intonations. However, she is a high society patron of the arts, so the Hoi Poloi crowd tolerates Marguerite’s scratchy vocals because of her generous donations to the arts.

In this narcissistic age, a film like Marguerite is very timely. The first half of the movie is very comedic as we watch hypocrites praise Marguerite to her face, but mock her behind her back. For the first 90 minutes, Marguerite is a satirical comedy; however, this film is over two hours long.

When Marguerite hears her first criticism, the film becomes more serious. To prove herself, she takes lessons from a second rate opera singer. Her goal is to sing at a opera house in Paris for a charity benefit. Marguerite concludes with many motifs that one expects from a five act opera.

While fictional, this film is based on a true story about a delusional American dowager who thought she could sing opera, but she sounded like Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer. This French language (with English subtitles) film won multiple awards at the Venice and Cesar film festivals. Marguerite opens tomorrow.

With the Lenten Season over and the further onslaught of Summer Blockbuster movies impending, take the time to see Miracles from Heaven. Based on a true story, Jennifer Garner stars as the mother of a sick child with a stomach disease. After many painful medical examinations and procedures, the daughter returns home and falls into a hollow oak tree. What happens next is a profound mystery.

After seeing the noir Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice with its computerized claustrophobia (more next week), Miracles from Heaven seemed like a breath of fresh air with amazing cinematography celebrating life. With the appearance of a special butterfly and a soulful rendition of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” Miracles from Heaven is the best feel good movie of the year.

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