There is a borderline territory between reality and dreams where we all dwell in early childhood. As we grow up, it starts fading away. By the time we become adults, most of us can hardly remember having been there. To bring it back is unthinkable. No one can do it. Yet, with varying degrees of success, some insist on trying. The vehicle they choose also varies a lot. It can be a novel, a play, a poem, a song- - or a film. Some of the most amazing re-creations of the lost territory between reality and dreams are films directed by immensely gifted artists who, from the start, knew exactly what they were after and not for a moment lost track of what they had to do to get it. This kind of film cannot afford being "all right." It must be perfect. Otherwise the whole project fails. Nothing happens. It becomes a film that never was.
"A Bag of Marbles" may be one of the four or five films ever made of that kind without a single frame that could be called phony. I cannot remember the last time I saw a regular audience, not the audience of a premiere or a film festival, applaud in the end. It never fails to move me when it happens. It happened yesterday at the end of this marvelous film, made with so much care that it's destined to become a milestone. Photography couldn't be more beautiful, nor could the art direction, bringing to life in the most extraordinary way the atmosphere of occupied France in the early 1940s. The music is perfect. The screenplay is a gem, its treatment of time being absolutely breathtaking. But the star of the show really is the casting director. It's very rare to see a film with so many peripheral characters in which every single actor has been cast to perfection. Not to mention the choice of Dorian Le Clech, the little boy who plays the lead. A really long time will have to go by until we see another child play such a complex character with so much authority.
The man who put it all together, turning "A Bag of Marbles" into one of the most rewarding experiences in movie-going anyone may have had in years, surely deserves the beautiful, quite unexpected tribute I saw him get from a regular audience as the film ended and they realized Christian Duguay had honored them with a masterpiece.
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