Review: 'Marie's Story', Starring Isabelle Carré and Ariana Rivoire

Helen Keller-type stories are always inspiring. They prove that people are capable of anything if they’re dedicated enough to accomplish it. And in the case of people helping people, it brings out the more compassionate side of humanity that many of us are sometimes willing to forget in a world that isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Marie’s Story is a look at that compassion and is an inspiring look at what one person can accomplish in the face of adversary.

Marie Heurtin (Ariana Rivoire) has lived her entire life in darkness. Born blind and deaf, she struggled to express herself and was isolated by her family, who found it difficult to try and teach her anything or even communicate. So when her father (Gilles Treton) tries to drop her off at the convent where the nuns there teach deaf girls, Marie isn’t immediately accepted because she is both blind and deaf and the sisters have simply never had to deal with such a unique situation. But when Sister Marguerite (Isabelle Carré), who has a sickness of the lungs, takes her under her wing, she begins to bring Marie out of her darkness by teaching her sign language and how to behave and communicate with people. The two develop a strong bond throughout the learning process, which proves difficult for the both of them.

Marie’s Story isn’t an exact replica of The Miracle Worker, but it does come quite close. Set in the late 19th century, the serene setting and natural backdrop gives the film a very enclosed but beautiful atmosphere of growth and character learning. There is a lot of time spent on developing a mutual trust between Marie and Marguerite, and this is what truly drives the story and character interaction between the two.

Ariana Rivoire as Marie doesn’t have a lot to work with at first because she’s always fighting everyone around her and doesn’t react in any other way. However, later on, we see progress and realization in her new path towards expressing herself to the world and we’re able to see better acting because of it. Isabelle Carré as Sister Marguerite is patient and kind without being too much of either. We see her frustration and her struggles to try and teach and control Marie. The two share some tender scenes in the end that seal their pact and it feels genuine.

The film, directed by Jean-Pierre Améris, while inspiring, does struggle to stay afloat at times, if only due to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on during the middle of the film. It also comes across as a bit formulaic: struggle, try to teach, repeat, and so this can prove to be tedious and a bit tiresome. Marguerite’s illness is not touched upon until the final act, when the story finally begins to come together, and we're left with very tender moments between Marie and Marguerite. Ultimately, Marie's Story is still inspiring and hopeful, although the film is underwhelming.

Marie's Story is now playing at the Angelika Pop-Up in Union Market here in Washington, DC.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5