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REVIEW: "The Town is Quiet"; French "Magnolia" Offers Standout Role for Ascaride

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire October 26, 2001 at 2:0AM

REVIEW: "The Town is Quiet"; French "Magnolia" Offers Standout Role for Ascaride
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REVIEW: "The Town is Quiet"; French "Magnolia" Offers Standout Role for Ascaride

by Andy Bailey



[EDITOR'S NOTE: Andy Bailey reviewed Robert Guediguian's "La Ville est Tranquille" following its Venice 2000 premiere. New Yorker Films will open the film today (Friday) in U.S. theaters].


Out with the old, in with the new. In Robert
Guediguian
's giant leap forward, the foremost
chronicler of Marseilles working-class life enters a
new arena altogether, with yet another valentine to
his native port city in the south of France. Only this
one's grander in scope, and more pessimistic than
"Marius and Jeannette," the writer/director (and
producer's) only film to have made the leap over to
America.


A small jewel of a working-class romantic drama that
played out like some winsome hybrid of Ken Loach and
Marcel Pagnol, 1997's "Marius and Jeanette" earned a
French Cesar for actress Ariane Ascaride, a firebrand
of an actress whose gift for expressing the careening
highs and lows of proletarian life verged on the
incandescent.


A veteran of eight previous Guediguian films, Ascaride
dominates every scene in "La Ville est Tranquille"
("The City is Calm"), no mean feat considering its
Altmanesque, multi-protagonist construct and unwieldy
154-minute running time. The actress received a five-minute standing ovation following last Thursday's screening on the Venice Lido for her stunning work as Mich