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MAGIQUE (France)

  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Drama
Director: Philippe Muyl
Cast: Antoine Duléry, Marie Gillain, Benoît Brière, Cali, Louis Dussol, Jean-Robert Bourdage, Holly O'Brien, Rachel Gauthier, Marie Gillain, Gouchy Boy
RunTime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.magique-lefilm.com/

Opening Day: 23 April 2009


MAGIQUE! tells the tale of a boy, Tommy (10 years old), who lives with his mother Betty, in a country honey farm far from Montreal. Tommy has never known his father and in filling the void of his inquisitive mind, he'd imagine his father as an astronaut. Mother Betty on the other hand is a melancholic woman whose search for a companion on the internet would often end in vain. It saddens Tommy to see his mother so unhappy, but how can he bring back her radiant smile?

One day, a small travelling circus arrives in the village where Tommy attends school. But due to administrative problems, they cannot erect the big top and are forced to flee the village. An idea starts to form in Tommy's head - What better way to bring joy back into his family's lives than a circus? So after a great deal of effort, Tommy succeeds in convincing his mother to offer their land to the small circus.

Movie Review:

If Laughter has its way, it's the cure to all illnesses. Nothing beats a hearty laugh to chase the blues away, and this is what a little boy, Tommy (Louis Dussol), plans to do, with the cherubic child brimming with optimism getting genuinely concerned with the heavy melancholy that is dripping all over his widowed mom Betty (Maria Gillain), to try and bring some sunshine back into her life.

Magique! is a childís fantasy tale of sorts, and I appreciate how director Philippe Muyl didnít have to resort to quick and easy ways of slapping CGI over everything, or to come up with out of this world characters to entertain the audience. It parallels the resourcefulness of the child protagonist Tommy in having to find innovative real world solutions to address real world issues, and what more when opportunity presented itself with a circus troupe being caught up administratively without a venue to perform?

The use of the circus provided plenty of wonderful imagery, and an avenue where wonderful new characters get introduced, each holding a promise and potential in which to cheer up Betty, or to teach young and impressionable Tommy a thing or two about life. As they get introduce in little episodes, what mattered was how the performers and entertainers were presented without their larger than life facade, being people who are just about your average Joe, dispensing their two cents worth of advice through their natural abilities. It's akin to stripping down the outer facade to see what's inside that really matters, which is more important.

Which speaks volumes because Betty's melancholy comes from having to run their honey farm almost all by herself, and facing the emptiness in her life through not having a husband share the burden of earning enough to keep the farm afloat, and to bring up a child. She turns to online dating sites to look for true love from the profiles of strangers, and I guess there are more unsuccessful stories than successful ones from that avenue. The film may run like a pro-family movie in Betty's attempt and Tommy's unwitting assistance in emphasizing the quest for a more complete family unit, and while there's a hint of romance in the air, nothing beats the mother-son relationship and love they have for each other.

Technically, this film is brilliant and brings about the spectacle of cinema with its lush cinematography, and plenty of postcard perfect scenes. It's almost like a musical, almost, because while there are songs weaved into the narrative, they're not complete songs per se, more like singing the same lines which often reiterates and reinforces common feelings at different points in the story. It might be a tad disappointing that you won't get treated to an actual circus performance, even while there's an alternative compensation to that loss since you're more than primed to see all the circus characters in actual action.

You cannot leave Magique! without feeling that the cast had fleshed out their characters really well, except perhaps for Cali whoís a French musician in real life, may have drawn out some of your attention from this make believe, reel world, to the real one. Otherwise, you would be hard pressed not to have been charmed by the charismatic Louis Dussol (those cheeks just call out to you for pinching) playing a kid with that kind of spunk and a sincere heart whom all parents would probably wish for in their own, or want to provide Gillainís Betty a hug that will indicate her time for love will come soon enough.

Approach Magique! with a child like innocence, and you may find yourself enjoying every moment in this simple tale filled with a wonderful acting cast, with a spectacle best seen on the big screen. n

Movie Rating:

(Whimsically Magnifique!)

Review by Stefan Shih


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