Fans of ethereal storytelling and French cinema should give Pietro Marcello’s 2022 film “Scarlet” a watch if they haven’t already!
The film plot, adapted from Russian writer Alexander Grin’s novel “Scarlet Sails”, centers around the relationship between a father and daughter.
Marcello portrays postwar domestic life with vivid imagery and a color palette that complements the emotional story.
The stylized opening scenes introduce us to the authenticity that we are going to experience throughout.We are met with somber and dramatic postwar footage, so we can breathe in the destruction and find ourselves there in an instant.
Cue Raphaël; a beast of a man with weathered features and a hardened brow hobbling back to his hometown, heavily burdened by his experiences.
He is greeted with heartbreaking, life-changing news when he discovers his wife has died while he was drafted and he has a tiny baby girl to care for.The juxtaposition of this rough-featured, sasquatch-of-a-man and baby Juliette; a pure blank slate dressed in white is cinematic gold!
The circumstances surrounding his wife’s death are gritty and melancholic. The widowed veteran played by Raphaël Thiery has an initial reaction of rage that he must quash for Juliette.
We watch the two learn and grow like some beauty and the beast couple. Only with a father-daughter bond rather than a romantic one.
Throughout Juliette’s childhood, we watch her father work as a carpenter, making beautiful toys. Again we are treated to another stark visual contrast here as he smoothes the wood with his rough hands.
The veteran is also an accordion player and he repairs a piano for his daughter which kindles her love of music.Over the course of the years, the landscape rapidly changes. We see whimsical villages grow into booming towns as social and industrial revolutions take hold.
Juliette changes with it, as she ages from an endearing child with ringlets into a bold young woman. Somehow she remains level-headed while maintaining her dreamier side.
The role was an important one for the French newcomer Juliette Jouan helping her make international waves. With no prior acting experience, she brought the impetuous, daring, magic-filled character to life.
“Scarlet” is listed as a dramatic historical romance but is a tough film to categorize but this is also one of the film’s best attributes.
With its relaxed pace, the viewer is out of the loop when it comes to where the plot is headed. As a result, we are taken on a journey packed with unexpected ups and downs, some of them very hard-hitting!
Marcello uses his documentary background to great effect with the shooting decisions lending the film a very 1960’s verité feel. The contemplative story oozes an authentic edge and will have French cinematography fans drinking it in.
Pietro Marcello has hit upon a bitter-sweet combination that compels you to watch. One where magic meets the realities of a hard life that will bring a sensitive watcher to tears as often as laughter.