My Father's Glory/My Mother's Castle (1990) review
My Father's Glory/My Mother's Castle
Director: Yves Robert
Year Released: 1990
MY FATHER'S GLORY. Marcel Pagnol's autobiography may be a fantastic read, but as a film it doesn't exactly work (granted, I have only seen My Father's Glory - there's a sequel called My Mother's Castle). The story is told from Marcel as an adult, as he reminisces about his warm, loving, Catholic-hating schoolteacher-father, and how he and his father (and strict Catholic uncle) spend the holidays in a cottage, hunting game. It's sweet, but perhaps excessively so - there isn't a devious or slightly Machiavellian bone in anyone's body. Pagnol's fondness for his past is totally askew: I'm not asking for complete disharmony (films like Nil By Mouth and The War Zone go a bit too far in the opposite direction), but a tad bit of tension would be welcome. Nevermind ... allow me to rephrase that: I want something to happen ... period. This film is basically one act goes nowhere and rambles on for two hours: by the time all of the characters are introduced, it's over. Perhaps Robert thinks that young Marcel's obsessive love for the country life (as opposed for disdain for city life) is the "story," or that his respect for his father (hence the title) has something to do with the film's "meaning," but neither concept is well developed. An innocent but empty experience. MY MOTHER'S CASTLE. More of the same: clumsy handling of storytelling, absence of any tension or drama. There are actually two more problems in the second part that there are in the first: one involves a meaningless subplot involving the more irritating little girl you'll see in a long time (it amounts to and proves nothing), and second, there's a feeble attempt to add a villain somewhere near the end of the film that is tacked on for symbolic purposes. Whereas the film is a mostly upbeat affair, with some nice moments, the ending is depressing and abrupt, ruining any sense of cheer derived from the first two acts.