(Château de ma mère)

Directed by Robert Yves. France. 1990.

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"O for one of those hours of gladness. Gone alas with our youth too soon" *

My Mother's Castle picks up where My Father's Glory left off, tracing young Marcel's life over the next year as his enchanting remembrances of things past comes full circle. If you were nostalgic for the south of France after seeing My Father's Glory, you do not have to wait long to once again smell the sprigs of wild thyme. After resuming their life again in Marseilles, the family: Joseph (Philippe Caubere), Augustine (Nathalie Roussel), Marcel (Julien Ciamaca), brother Paul (Victorien Delamare) and baby sister decide to return to Provence for Christmas and then again at Easter. 

Marcel is reunited with his friend Lili but soon discovers the charms of women in the person of Isabelle (Julie Timmerman), a somewhat snooty young lady who takes on the affectation of nobility to impress (and dominate) Marcel. Their relationship shows promise but comes to an abrupt end early in the film when Isabelle's family suddenly leaves. Soon Augustine has the idea of returning to their country home each weekend. This, however, presents a small problem. Aside from the fact that Joseph, with the aid of Augustine's charms, must rearrange his teaching schedule, the family must walk five miles from the trolley station to their country home using up much of their weekend time.

This problem is solved when Joseph meets Bouzique (Philippe Uchan), one of his former pupils. Bouzique is a canal guard who shows them how to cut eight hours from their weekly walk by illegally cutting over other people's property that runs along the canal. At first Joseph is reluctant but finally agrees. This takes on an air of great adventure and humour as Bouzique gives a key to Joseph who must unlock the doors on each estate that stand in his way. The walk becomes the focus of the film, as everyone in the group must carefully avoid drawing attention to themselves. One house in particular, owned by a grouchy caretaker and a surly dog named Masher, causes Augustine to be quite fearful. Like My Father's Glory, My Mother's Castle consists of charming vignettes that evoke a simpler time. The film works its way into our heart because the characters care about each other and we care about them. Like all idealized reflections of the past, however, it ultimately gives way to bittersweet reality, reminding us very gently how soon youth passes, but as poet Shelley put it, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought".

* From Kerry Dances by James Lynam Molloy.

Howard Schumann
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