Critic’s Choice: Gérard Depardieu in the French classic ‘The Return of Martin Guerre’

G?rard Depardieu in a scene from “The Return of Martin Guerre.” Credit: Cohen Media Group
Gérard Depardieu in the 1982 movie “The Return of Martin Guerre.”
(Cohen Media Group)
Film Critic

Involving and provocative, 1982’s French classic “The Return of Martin Guerre” makes a welcome return to big screens in a restored, 4K version that highlights its visual splendors (the film was Oscar-nominated for its convincing costume design) as well as its psychological complexities and the splendid acting of stars Nathalie Baye and Gérard Depardieu.

Based on a true story and set in a 16th century France where the pagan world lurks just beneath the Christian surface, it starts as the story of a young woman whose husband leaves her for the romance of war. Nine years later, Martin Guerre (a magnetic Depardieu) causes a sudden sensation by returning to his village and his wife (a luminous Baye). He recognizes everyone and everyone recognizes him, but then rumors begin that all is not as it seems.

Winner of three Césars and directed by Daniel Vigne (who co-wrote with the great French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière), “Martin Guerre” is both a top-notch mystery story and a philosophical meditation on identity, personality and the very nature of reality. Starts July 5 at the Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles.

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