Marie's Story | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Marie's Story

This true life story can be fairly described as "The Miracle Worker in a convent"

click to enlarge Isabell Carré postrays Sister Marguerite
Isabell Carré postrays Sister Marguerite

In rural France in the late 1800s, a young nun in fragile health insists on schooling an adolescent girl who, blind and deaf from birth, has neither language nor any sense of how to live among people.

So yes, Marie's Story can be fairly described as "The Miracle Worker in a convent," with dauntless Sister Marguerite in the Anne Sullivan role. (The film, based on a true story, is even contemporaneous with Helen Keller's life.) Marie, played by deaf-from-birth Ariana Rivoire, starts out completely ungovernable, and the first hour of Marie's Story has more wrestling than Foxcatcher. But of course, we know exactly where things are going, from Mother Superior's skepticism to Marguerite's tuberculosis. The lone real twist is that many of the convent's other nuns and young students are also deaf, and a good part of the dialogue is transacted in sign language.

Still, the film is gorgeously lit, and director Jean-Pierre Ameris elicits engaging performances from his leads, including Isabelle Carré as Marguerite. And the film's final reel, if wholly predictable in narrative terms, is a poignant consideration of death and the power of friendship.

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