The chronicler of socialist-leaning tales set in and around the Southern French port of Marseilles returns to his home territory with his cast of regulars for a story set against a backdrop of redundancies and working-class travails. Robert Guédiguian wears his heart on his sleeve with a narrative that packs an engaging punch and leads to a relatively feel-good finale. It is a crowd-pleaser with integrity and should appeal to those who appreciated Guédiguian‘s films from Marius and Jeanette onwards.
Though it's situated along the Mediterranean coast near Cannes, the universe conjured by Robert Guédiguian in Marseilles could not be further removed from film festival glamour. The title is misleading for those expecting an adaption of the short story by Ernest Hemmingway. Kilimanjaro is the dream destination Michel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) and wife Marie-Claire (Ariane Ascaride) hope to visit after Michel is made redundant from his job at the shipyard.
With more than passing reference in tone to the novels of Marcel Pagnol, Guédiguian explores the effects of enforced retirement on the life of an active worker and union representative.
Suddenly, Michel has time on his hands to look after his grandchildren and build a pagoda in his daughter's garden, but he also misses the camaraderie of his job in the port.
The film switches register when one evening two gunmen burst into the house where Michel and Marie-Claire are having dinner with friends. The thieves seem to have insider knowledge because not only did Michel have his travel tickets for the journey to Africa on hand, but also a considerable sum of cash given to them as spending money by friends and work-mates. When he discovers the identity of one of the criminals, Christophe (Grégoire LePrince-Ringuet), Michel and Marie-Claire have to decide if they'll press charges. Christophe, who has drifted into petty crime, did so to support two younger brothers, and Michel and Marie-Claire's actions could result in jail-time for Christophe, potentially ruining his brothers' chances.
Given Guédiguian's political track record, as seen in such films as Marius and Jeannette and The Town is Quiet, it comes as no surprise that they do the right thing.
Darroussin and Ascaride anchor the film with their flawless performances while Guédiguian displays a masterly control of his material.
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Cast: Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Gérard Meylan, Maryline Canto, Adrien Jolivet, Robinson Stévenin, Karole Rocher, Jacques Boudet, Anaïs Demoustier.
Director: Robert Guédiguian
Screenwriters: Robert Guédiguian and Jean-Louis Milesi
Producer: Robert Guédiguian
Running time: 107 min.
Release date: Unset