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A driver for out-patients at a hospital, Marie-Jo (Ariane Ascaride) is deeply in love with her husband, a construction worker, Daniel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) but she has fallen equally in love with Marco (Gerard Meylan), a pilot who guides ships into the port of Marseilles. She is torn between keeping it a secret from Daniel and her desire to share her feelings with him. She also has to consider her teenage daughter Julie (Julie-Marie Parmentier) and when she decides to go to Marco, Julie is the angriest, while Daniel is brokenhearted. Marie-Jo tries to return home, but it doesn’t work, which leads her to the impossible choice she must make between family and freedom.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A film that floats on pure emotion, Marie-Jo And Her Two Loves explores the dilemmas of a wife and mother who loves two men. This is similar territory to the mainstream American production, Unfaithful, in which Diane Lane gives an Oscar nominated performance as the loving wife realising she can actually love another man – not just bed him. Writer/director Robert Guédiguian treats the story from a culturally specific (French) perspective and uses every available Marseilles location to give the film traction as it probes Marie-Jo’s psyche. The summer setting on the Mediterranean drives up the romance factor, but the film’s subtext is a different kind of romance: it’s the sort of romance that comes up hard against reality. Romance that is an impossible dream. This is the sort of romanticism that your well-meaning betters warn you against. It’s driven by idealism, which just isn’t on, is it. Marie-Jo can’t have both her loves, not with any peace or harmony, not the blissful triangle of a 1960s mènage á trois. She has to choose – which she can’t. Love binds her. Sensuous, erotic scenes place Marie-Jo in bed with her two men with great care, and it’s a credit to both Guédiguian and Ascaride that these scenes celebrate sexuality and make no fuss of the fact she’s not a 20 something babe. She is a mature woman and her naked body is photographed much the same way as is the body of her naked men. But the film is too long and somewhat laboured (as are some of the music choices) for the material, but it has many strengths, including excellent use of locations and especially the flawless performances from the entire cast. The weakest spot is the story’s resolution, which comes across as contrived and plays like melodrama. 

Review by Keith Lofthouse:
Is it possible for one woman to love two men at once and can her dilemma justify infidelity? The French might say cela va sans dire (that goes without saying) and such is the assurance of Guédiguian’s regular and resplendent cast that you never once doubt the notion in this overlong but richly romantic drama that slowly arrests the attention and finally seizes the heart. With an eye for exquisite beauty and a resolve of infinite patience, Guédiguian sows the seed of Marie-Jo’s anxiety over her “own little worries” before reaping the torment that rips at her soul. In temperament the tender lovers are not so unalike…Daniel offers stability and satisfying sex, but the more urbane Marco has travelled the world, oozes charm and proffers more creative sex. “I only feel at peace when I make love,” Marie-Jo swoons and when she stands at a distance, silently admiring her fleshy lovers, she is content until guilt gives way to a pain unrelieved by the panacea of a shimmering Marseilles sun. Given the extensive nudity and heartfelt emotions, Guédiguian never forfeits restraint. Excerpts from Schubert, Vivaldi and Mozart enhance the serene and velvety mood that is only ruffled when the director turns up the volume and cranks up the sentiment with a couple of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong tunes. What can be seen as a somewhat old-fashioned love tussle is tweaked into the 21st century by Marie-Jo’s frequent reliance on the mobile phone which finally betrays her infidelity. There are moments of delicious subtlety (a female patient in a neck-brace chides Marie-Jo on her use of her cell phone in the car) and surprising tension as Guédiguian hints at any number of happy, tragic or compromised resolutions that await these tortured hearts. In the end, this beautifully acted and carefully nuanced piece is satisfyingly unpredictable…but it wouldn’t be French without tears.

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Marie-Jo et ses deux amours

CAST: Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Gerard Meylan, Jacques Boudet, Frederique Bonnal, Julie-Marie Parmentier, Yann Tregouet

PRODUCER: Robert Guédiguian

DIRECTOR: Robert Guédiguian

SCRIPT: Robert Guédiguian, Jean-Louis Milesi


EDITOR: Bernard Sasia

MUSIC: not credited

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michel Vandestien

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney/Melbourne: May 1, 2003; Adelaide: June 26, 2003; Brisbane: July 17, 2003; Tasmania: October 16, 2003

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