Friday, June 21, 2024


THE STORY – This is the story of a woman named Chiara. She is an actress, the daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve. During a summer that sees her reality fall into disarray, Chiara decides to live as her father. She dresses like him. She speaks like him. She breathes like him. Chiara’s impersonation is so convincing that people around her begin to believe. They call her “Marcello.”

THE CAST – Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Fabrice Luchini, Nicole Garcia, Benjamin Biolay, Melvil Poupaud & Hugh Skinner

THE TEAM – Christophe Honoré (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 120 Minutes

It really can be a special opportunity to dive into the work of a particular artist and have a better understanding of their work and motivations, as well as their minds and a fascinating landscape of particular motivations – some that the public may have been witness to and others that may have been guarded secrets that are only now being discussed. The conversations born out of these works are stimulating topics worthy of examination. Or, at least, they can be. Sometimes, the vaults are opened, and the peering light actually reveals very little. Or, what it does reveal is a shallow dissection that wasn’t worth the initial investigation. One can attest that “Marcello Mio” has much on its mind concerning the legacies that acting dynasties convey to their children. Still, this particular exploration is painfully dull and lacks any significant substance.

The film is set in an alternate reality in which every character seen is a fictionalized version of the real actor they are portraying. Chiara Mastroianni finds herself in a crisis; her personal and professional life is being disrupted by a feeling of inadequacy. Her belief is that this stress is rooted in the connection with her late father, the great Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. Haunted by visions of his face, she decides to take drastic action. She dons a suit, fedora, fake mustache, and thick-rimmed glasses and starts calling herself “Marcello.” This befuddles everyone around her, especially her mother, screen icon Catherine Deneuve. Her ex-husband, Benjamin Biolay, and filmmaker/family friend, Fabrice Luchini, seem more willing to adapt to this new persona. There is also a completely fictionalized character, a British soldier named Colin (Hugh Skinner), who finds kinship with this novel personality. It’s a wild farce meant to illuminate a deeper meaning behind these fraught emotions.

What exactly that deeper meaning becomes is the ultimate failing of this film. One can see the threads that writer/director Christophe Honoré means to follow. The burden that one places on defining one’s own identity within the long shadow of familial comparison is a concept that has fascinating elements. As every character is a slightly askew mirrored version of the actual subject, there is a therapeutic roleplay that is somewhat intriguing to watch. At least, it’s intriguing to think about but absolutely tedious to witness its execution. As the narrative progresses, one realizes that whatever commentary is meant to be mined here is of little value. This dissection of an acting dynasty battling with their own insecurities struggles to make an emotional connection beyond the narrowed scope of these individuals. What Chiara seeks to answer about herself through this strange drag performance never really makes an impact outside shallow waters. Her inquisitiveness is motivated by such an interior perspective that it does not transcend into anything more profound.

It’s unfortunate that the story’s minor potential goes mostly unfulfilled. The one semi-successful aspect is the more overtly magical realms with which this material seeks to play. It’s reminiscent of previous Honoré works, such as “On a Magical Night,” where an aura of enchantment conjures up a unique environment to exhibit. This is most notably present with the inclusion of Colin, the only character not played by an actor inhabiting an alternate version of themself. It’s meant to be a fantastical, mysterious, but quite alluring introduction. The same is said for Chiara’s ventures into Italy, a trip that prods even further into the layers of this complicated existence. At the same time, these excursions are also emblematic of the meandering storytelling that creates a lethargic pace that is quite fatal to the overall momentum.

For her part, there is something beguiling about Chiara in her role here. The fractured nature of this perspective carries with it an interesting dichotomy shading her portrayal. Still, as imagined, the character is a cacophony of competing ideas that never coalesce, making her turn feel somewhat commanding but also muddled. She fares better than Deneuve, who hardly contributes anything beyond a meager presence that ultimately is played with an underwhelming hand. It is appreciated how much charm Luchini and Skinner bring to the table, the latter especially. Since he’s not shackled to any contemporary convictions, this character has the freedom to operate in more directions. It may not be much, but Skinner is compelling in the short time he’s given and makes a meaningful impression.

The foundation that “Marcello Mio” wants to build upon is an engrossing notion. This arena that seeks to take typical conventions and slightly twist them as a means to unearth a fresh viewpoint on matters of art and personal circumstances is a meaningful endeavor. However, it never comes together in any way that is satisfying. The narrative is a rambling escapade relentless in its mundane observations, wanting to craft a more resonant discussion but instead is a stilted portrait. A handful of decent contributions from the cast are nowhere near enough to save this laborious effort from suffocating under the weight of its own self-importance.


THE GOOD - There are a handful of decent performances here, with a standout being Hugh Skinner. Some of the concepts are intriguing.

THE BAD - A laborious exercise that constantly lets the momentum become languid and tedious. The narrative feels very insular and doesn’t do a great job in creating an emotional impact. Many of the other actors don’t make much of an impression.



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Josh Parham
Josh Parham
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>There are a handful of decent performances here, with a standout being Hugh Skinner. Some of the concepts are intriguing.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>A laborious exercise that constantly lets the momentum become languid and tedious. The narrative feels very insular and doesn’t do a great job in creating an emotional impact. Many of the other actors don’t make much of an impression.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>3/10<br><br>"MARCELLO MIO"