Maria dreams

As long as we live, we are not at the end

My review of the currently running French film comedy "Maria dreams", or the art of starting over, starring Karin Viard and Grégory Gadebois.

Films always take me with them. I am a very emotional person and the images have direct access to my emotional consciousness. And I like to let that happen. As Theo (Louis Garrel) said in "The Dreamers" when asked why the friends sit in the front row: Only here are the images still unspent, because no one is sitting in front of us.

I'm bad at film tips à la this is a film for everyone who liked film XYZ. Because when I'm sitting in my cinema seat and there's no one between me and the screen, the images shine through unfiltered into my emotional centre. Unfiltered and emotional. Without critical glasses. In the past still from the reel with a good 24 frames per second. 24 images and our heart beats only once. So our heart beats only once at 24 events. Only when you've held a roll of film in your hand, and I have, do you notice how slowly a movement happens on the film.

Now Maria dreams.

We are Poems

Maria is a shy woman who talks to herself while brushing her teeth. Maria lives in a little house with the number 97 outside Paris, it's a bit of a drive, in one of the many red-seated RERs that leave the centre of Paris in a star shape and bring all the faceless invisible helpers in and out. Maria is one of them. Karin Viard plays this seemingly simple role so lovingly multi-layered. As Maria says about herself and her job as a cleaning lady, she is invisible but sees everything herself. Isn't that what they always say about God? The film creates its own little Olympus in this moment of the inconspicuous, blue-coated Maria. With just one sentence. This is one of the most beautiful moments in the film, when you notice how carefully Lauriane Escaffre and Yvo Muller wrote the script. Maria, the inconspicuous cleaning lady, says to the caretaker of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris that it is we housemaids and cleaning women who help the world achieve its beauty.

Maria can't seem to make choux pastry, which is why she fails to make the Paris-Brest cake, which she only bakes to please someone. Maria is the kind of person who is asked to paint her deceased mother's fingernails and is then dismissed because she is no longer needed as a maid. 

That's how she ends up at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. A place like a catalyst, like one of those vertical and horizontal reality-changing transfer machines of which a student once speaks in the film and which cinema itself is. And in this atmosphere it happens that Maria looks at a watercolour of herself and says: "On the one hand, this is me, on the other hand, it's not me" (only rendered from memory). For me, that is the most beautiful moment of the film. Narcissus also caught sight of himself in the mirror, but where the youth of Greek mythology only falls in love with himself, Maria discovers a new colourful facet of herself in the blurred watercolour. And from this image, like the developing dish of a photo lab, the image of another woman develops - and how she becomes that is the story of this film.

We are poems. It's an installation by Ugo Rondinone (as part of an exhibition organised by multiple gallerist Kamel Mennour for the Beaux-Arts de Paris) above the entrance to the Academy and everyone can, I think, see for themselves what this metaphor means for our lives.

As long as we are alive, we are not at the end. And this is true every day of the rest of our lives. Every second. Every single heartbeat. 


Marc-André Lussier wrote for Canada's La Presse in Montreal, «Lauriane Escaffre and Yvo Muller obviously don't have the ambition to reinvent everything, but Maria rêve is one of those films full of charm that does the soul good.» I have a category of my own for these films, I call them band-aid films. When something hurts, put the film on it and it will be fine.

That's the way it is here. Cleaners are God. I like that idea.

The film is currently showing at the Cinema in Wuppertal-Barmen and many other cinemas in Germany. If you want to know more about the plot of the film, you will be well served by the Atlas Film website, among others.

Disclaimer: I received the tickets for the film as a gift from my client Atlas Film. I was not asked to write a film review. 

tl, dr;

My review of the currently running French film comedy "Maria dreams", or the art of starting over, starring Karin Viard and Grégory Gadebois. 

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