Marguerite's Theorem - Film Review (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024)

Marguerite's Theorem - Film Review (Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024)

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Posted 2024-03-13 by Nicholas Gordonfollow

Tue 05 Mar 2024 - Tue 09 Apr 2024


Mathematics and romance swirl around in Marguerite's Theorem, an easy-to-watch, if somewhat predictable and safe drama from French director Anna Novion. The heroine is gifted 25-year-old Marguerite (Ella Rumpf), a PhD student at Ecole Normale Superieure, a Paris university known for producing world-famous mathematicians. Marguerite is hoping to join their ranks and is well on the path to stardom until her career suffers a serious blow when an irredeemable error is discovered in her thesis.



Marguerite's mistake is uncovered by Lucas (Julien Frison), another maths prodigy who has recently arrived from Oxford to study under brilliant professor Werner (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), who is also Marguerite's teacher. Marguerite, light on interpersonal skills, resents Lucas' arrival and the attention that Professor Werner seems to be lavishing on him.

So when Lucas calls Marguerite's error out in a seminar full of other (all male) mathematicians, Marguerite's world implodes. Werner advises her to scrap her thesis and start again, this time with less complicated subject matter (she was originally working on solving an infamously difficult problem). And to add to the injury, Werner also tells Marguerite that she should seek a new supervisor.

After hearing this, Marguerite goes off the deep end. She tells Werner to get stuffed, quits the university and walks out into the Paris sunshine. Her rebellion is quickly tempered by the knowledge that she will have to pay her scholarship back plus answer questions from her mother about why she is giving up the opportunity of a lifetime.

Marguerite tries to ignore these problems. She finds a place to live, a flaky but sincere roommate (played by Sonia Bonny) and a menial retail job. And she begins to live life outside academia. She goes to bars, enjoys a hook up and even takes up a weird side hustle, playing backroom mahjong for cash. But all this proves a temporary distraction for Marguerite - she can't deny her love of maths and she is soon filling the walls of her apartment with equations and calling on Lucas for help.

Marguerite's Theorem relates all this pleasantly enough, benefiting from a central premise unusual enough to garner interest. But the film doesn't make the most of it, not really saying anything about what it's like to be academically talented, or the expectations we place on the gifted, or anything about being female in a still male-dominated field.

The acting is solid enough, Ella Rumpf very good as the unworldly Marguerite wrestling with her complicated mind. And things do get interesting when Marguerite begins to explore a life outside of maths, more interesting still when she becomes a star on the local mahjong circuit. But this excitement fizzles away by the end, leaving by-the-numbers melodrama.

Marguerite's Theorem is playing nationally as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2024. Find information on session times, locations and tickets on the festival's official website .

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280537 - 2024-03-12 22:37:24

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