See? It sounds better closed.
Xavier Giannoli’s lightly comic period piece claims to be based on the true story of a wealthy woman who loved to sing despite her obvious lack of talent. In 1920s France, Marguerite Dumont (Catherine Frot) bankrolls lavish parties for the Amadeus Club so long as they allow her to indulge her passion—singing, poorly. But everything changes when the fires of Marguerite’s passion for performing are stoked by an eccentric anarchist (Aubert Fenoy) and depressed writer (Sylvain Dieuaide). Suddenly, she wants to perform in public, much to the embarrassment of her distantly loving husband, Georges (André Marcon). Enter former opera divo Pezzini (Michel Fau) and his eccentric crew, which includes a bearded lady, to prepare the sweet protagonist for the inevitable public unmasking of her musical deficits.
This tiny tale is stretched thin at two-plus hours, but the naïve charm of Marguerite, so beguilingly played by Frot, ensures the forgiveness of the audience. The situation is not so dissimilar to what takes place in the film. Unfortunately, Marguerite takes a soap operatic turn at the end. The egregious nature of this melodrama overwhelms the pleasing taste of what came before, as if the candy shell of an M&M gave way to unsweetened chocolate. The period production is lush, like a French “Downton Abbey,” and the performances magnifique, but such a big film needs a stronger story to support it than this delightful little anecdote.