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France 1986
Directed by
Claude Berri
109 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Manon Des Sources

I have never seen any reference to this film, the sequel to the director's Jean De Florette of the same year that distinguishes qualitatively between it and its precursor. Yes, the excellent Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil re-appear, and once again, production design and Bruno Nuytten's photography continue to be top notch but it has two major problems. Most prominent is the casting of Emmanuelle Béart as the grown-up Manon, now a supposedly reclusive goat-herder. There is no way one can find Béart's doll-like charms and salon-tousled hair even vaguely credible, not to mention her nude harmonica playing. Secondly, with the death of Jean in the first film the moral struggle that gave the story its emotional bite is over. Manon is not an adequate replacement as her character does little for most of the film other than dart skittishly from hillock to outcrop with her goats, the object of various characters' desires, her emergence in the latter part of the film as a dramatic force being nothing short of incongruous.

The result is decorously appealing and, were it not for the interest generated by the first film whose story is referenced in a clever ending, the film would be little more than a series of glossy images. Author Pagnol had originally filmed this in 1952 from his own screenplay with his wife in the lead role. It was a flop (originally it ran for 5 hours and then 3 hours when commercially released) but Pagnol went on to develop a successful novel from it and added a prequel which together became the bases for Berri's films.




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