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AU PETIT MARGUERY

SYNOPSIS:
Hippolyte, the chef at the small Paris restaurant of the title, is losing his sense of smell - and without that, you canít cook. Not in France. The restaurant has to close. The final dinner, with friends and relatives, brings with it the many memories and moments of joy as well as pain. Nostalgia can be food for the soul.

"A sad sort of story (at least by the end), yet immensely enjoyable cinema; the cast - quite a troupe in all - are such solidly constructed characters that hardly any seem incidental. The setting is a single evening - the last - in a small family restaurant in suburban Paris (if that is not a paradox). The young and old come together for a farewell. The chef and his wife are at once typical and unique, and the interactions of close family, with the attendant emotional baggage, old sores and new loves (and even a homeless man given a feast) are all handled with such unsentimental, insightful way that we become guests, too (If only! The beef looks fabulous.) This crowded atmosphere gives the film a certain weight on its own, and the script is crafted with great precision and understatement. Yet it is also a robust film, with a dynamic pace (albeit a little uneven in the first half) and moments of both pathos and humour. Director Laurent Benegui shows (in his second feature) how a simple story can be worked into excellent cinema. Very French, very enjoyable, and very appetising."
Andrew L. Urban

"Au Petit Marguery is a delightful, nostalgic glimpse into the lives of a French family coming to terms with change. In France, food is life. And to Hippolyte and his family, their restaurant represents everything important in their lives. Its imminent closure forces each family member to not only remember, but make some sense of his/her life. The script is economical, yet satisfying, as we catch glimpses of each oneís life. The past, revealed by brief flashback sequences, gives us further insight. What a poignant moment when Hippolyte tells Josephine, he has been unfaithful: the flash back explains her reaction - she already knew. The performances are multi-layered and splendid. It is a rich and textured film with a strong sense of reality. The cast is terrific; for those who have witnessed temperamental French chefs at work, the volatile kitchen scenes may bring a chuckle, or some may nod knowingly. The character subtleties are most satisfying and unknowingly seep into oneís subconsciousness. There is a certain sadness about the overall feeling of the film, but is presented with a certain joie de vivre that the French do so well."
Louise Keller

"Laurent Benegui's successful adaptation of his own novel about the closing night of a favourite neighbourhood restaurant after 30 years recalls "Babette's Feast," and with good reason: Food is as central a character here as it was in that film, and the female lead, Stephane Audran, also played Babette. As the close friends and family of proprietors Josephine (Audran) and Hip-polyte (Michel Aumont) unite for a final meal, the story jumps across time, with everything-flashbacks and current conversation-taking place at the same Paris restaurant, Au Petit Marguery. We revisit the restaurant on its opening night, witness family arguments and overhear intimate details in this place that will be and has been a pivotal part of their lives. This is the kind of deeply, deeply human comedy that the French seem to conjure up so effortlessly, and a genre that the Americans BOTCH up just as effortlessly. This semi-autobiographical film is a warm and bittersweet comment on family, food and closure in one's life, handled with a minimum of unnecessary sentiment by talented director Benegui. Despite its large cast of wonderfully created characters, and a tendency to lose sight as to who some of them are, Au Petit Marguery is at times richly funny and also just as poignant. The restaurant sequences with all the bustling relatives and friends gathering to celebrate a real last supper, has been handled with creative vigour by its director, and the end result is a satisfying film that is as resplendent as an equally satisfying repast. Bon Appetit!"
Paul Fischer

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AU PETIT MARGUERY (M)
(France)

CAST: Stephane Audran, Michel Aumont, Alain Beigel, Marie Bunel, Thomas Chabrol, Vincent Colombe, Laurence Cote, Antoine Cousin

DIRECTOR: Laurent Benegui

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Charles Gassot

SCRIPT: Laurent Benegui with Michel Field & Olivier Daniel

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Luc Pages

EDITOR: Jean Luc Gaget

MUSIC: Angelique & J.Cl Nachon

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 1997

FRENCH LANGUAGE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

AUSTRALIAN VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 21st century pictures

AUSTRALIAN VIDEO RELEASE: May 19, 1998







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