My Mother's Castle
1990, NR, 98 min. Directed by Yves Robert. Starring Therese Liotard, Didier Pain, Philippe Caubere, Nathalie Roussel.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 18, 1991
My Mother's Castle is Part Two of Robert's filmed adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's autobiographical recollections of growing up at the turn of the century in southern France. The late author and filmmaker's writings in his book Memories of Childhood provided the material for this film, as well as the preceding film, My Father's Glory. (Pagnol's writings were also the source material for another two-part film narrative Jean de Florette and Manon of Spring). My Mother's Castle is a rosy, kid's-eye view of his family, with special focus on his mother. This narrator's childhood is a happy, bourgeois idyll that is largely trouble-free and removed from worry. The viewer's experience is much like the young author's: pleasant and carefree with hardly a pertubance or ruffle on the horizon. This is both the success and the dilemma of the movie. There is a certain charm and innocent grace that carries My Mother's Castle and makes it a believable family account from the child's limited perspective. But that narrowness of vision is also a drawback suffusing it in a class-determined narrative that reduces all difficulties to sentimental blemishes and momentary turbulence. Despite these reservations, My Mother's Castle maintains an enchantment that paints across its canvas with lyrical watercolor swirls. You also get the feeling that a couple simple drops of rain would melt the whole structure. But while the skies are sunny, you've just got to smile.