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Marinette: Tribeca Film Review

Things might move at a speedier pace than you might desire in Virginie Verrier’s biopic Marinette, but the film makes for a solid drama.

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned underdog story? Your main character could be pursuing a career in artistry, sports, or education. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what they are chasing after as long as the audience cares as much about the end goal as the protagonist. Writer and director Virginie Verrier – alongside co-writer Brigitte Tanguy – taps into this mentality in her new biopic about women’s soccer star Marinette.

Former French soccer player Marinette Pichon would go on to hold the record for most goals and appearances for the French national team until 2020, surpassing both men and women, and became the first French player, regardless of gender, to join a team in the United States. But before setting very important precedents, Pichon endured a hard journey to her success.

Picheon was raised in by a courageous mother and an abusive father, and Marinette sees her as a passionate soccer player from a young age. Balancing jobs and yearning for a career in sports, she’s eventually selected to play for the French national team. Her determination gets the attention of a major American club, prompting Marinette to move from France to the United States with her mother, pursuing the dream of becoming the best player in the world.

Shall we get the obvious out of the way? Yes, Marinette utilizes most of the common biopic clichés you’re familiar with. When has that stopped good biographies from standing out, though? Virginie Verrier’s sports drama ends up being quite a solid film because of its heart and endearing lead. Verrier’s collaboration with director of photography Xavier Dolléans adds a lot of atmosphere to the picture. Because of the abusive environment Marinette grew up in, her childhood home is represented as bleak from a visual standpoint, as it is constantly covered in shadows.

loud and clear reviews marinette film 2023 movie
Marinette (Vigo Films, 2023 Tribeca Film Festival)

This visual cue is later highlighted again, once our main character is older and finds herself in a toxic relationship of her own, contrasting her mother’s loomy life and tone. Dolléans creates an exciting feeling when Marinette steps into a field very early on, almost as a way to represent the sport as her only happy place outside of home. It’s sunny, colorful, filled with charm but also tension. The game matches are well shot, though they do feel as if they were cut short due to the film’s short runtime.

Garance Marillier (Raw), who plays Marinette, also does a lot of heavy lifting here. There is a deep sense of sorrow in Marillier’s eyes that brilliantly portrays Marinette’s darker moments of her life. Yet, the amount of joy you can find in those same eyes when she feels seen or loved is frankly contagious. Marillier’s fellow young co-stars June Benard and Yamé Pertzing, who play infant and adolescent Marinette, do her job easier by instantly making you fall in love with this soccer icon with the limited on screen presence they have.

Marinette’s pacing is jarring in some corners, and your enjoyment of the movie ultimately comes down to personal preference. You’ll find yourself often trying to catch up with Pichon’s journey. Audience members might find this immersive, as the film sprints through Marinette’s life just as the titular character is sprinting through the field to get to a place in her career she can be happy with. But the 96 minute feature feels rushed. One moment you’ll see Pichon’s mother in a coma, a couple scenes later she’s back to normal with little time dedicated to how this impacts the overall narrative. Marinette at some point is seen in a seemingly content relationship, only to go sour very suddenly and at times off screen. Short movies are welcomed, but in this case it would have really benefited from perhaps 10 to 20 additional minutes, just to give these scenarios more breathing room.

In the end, Virginie Verrier and her crew deliver a touching sports drama that tells quite an important story about women in sports, showing us how things have changed for the better in some areas, and how there are still many improvements to be made. It’s worth watching Marinette for its solid direction and cinematography, and for another great performance from Garance Marillier that highlights the massive talent she is.

Marinette premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 11, 2023. Read our interview with Marinette’s cinematographer Xavier Dolléans and our list of 15 films to watch at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival!

Xavier Dolléans on Marinette: Interview – Loud And Clear Reviews
Interview: Marinette ’s cinematographer Xavier Dolléans sits down with us following the movie’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
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