Anne Fontaine is an accomplished film director who has produced a range of movies, tackling biopics such as Coco Before Chanel or beguiling dramas such as The Innocents. Her works have circled humanity – be it the glamorous or the gritty. Now she turns her attention to the story of a young gay man in the beautifully accomplished Reinventing Marvin.
The film sees rising star Finnegan Oldfield play Marvin Bijou, an outcast in his small village. Suffering constant bullying from the small-minded town and his working-class family, Marvin meets a drama teacher by chance who offers him a chance to escape. The film moves through his life as he discovers his sexuality and tries to find a place as a theatre student in Paris.
The themes of transformation and growth are strong in Fontaine’s work. Reinventing Marvin digs deep in this intimate character study of a young man trying this find his identity. Fontaine’s layered story does exactly what it says on the tin; excavating this raw spirit who pours is hurt into his theatrical work. There’s an impressive intimacy here as Marvin is sluiced down and cultivated so he feels comfortable with his own identity.
Young Oldfield is a delight to watch as the titular character. Bullied and rejected, Oldfield moves with the story. Holding his own against big actors such as Isabelle Huppert, Oldfield is mesmerising in an ultimately endearing performance.
Also, talking about Huppert, she appears in a superb cameo as herself creating one of the film’s best and most-talked about moments. There is also great support in Vince Macaigne, Gregory Gadebois, and Catherine Salee as Marvin’s family, feeding into the young boys’ anguish.
Reinventing Marvin is an astute depiction of one young man’s road to identity. It’s a smart film about discovery that blends performance and emotion in a visceral, up-lifting way.
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