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While many ugly Americans best remember Gerard Depardieu from late-'80s Hollywood fluff (and the less said aboutGreen Cardthe better), his art-house reputation as a legitimate, conscientious actor was more than mere hype. The solidReturn of Martin Guerre(Le Retour de Martin Guerre) stands as Depardieu's personal high-water mark: here, he was handed a well-written, nuanced role--one inviting a balanced display of intelligence, charismatic cool, and pure passion--and he makes the most of it. The narrative, set in medieval France during the Hundred Years' War, follows the alleged homecoming of a soldier after many years of absence. His wife (a structurally difficult role to portray with any skill, but played gamely here by the fetching Nathalie Baye) finds him such an improvement--both in the sack and otherwise--from the husband who left for the front that she ignores the villagers' suspicions that he is an impostor. The costumes and scenery are quite a bit better, and more historically responsible, than what we've all come to expect from period drama, and the logical flaws and obvious questions begged by the plot mechanics are smoothed out by director Daniel Vigne's steady hand with story art and cinematic pacing. The film was remade in English, and updated to the Reconstruction, in 1993 asSommersby, starring Richard Gere and Jodie Foster. See this original instead.--Miles Bethany
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CastGĂ©rard Depardieu, Nathalie Baye, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Isabelle Sadoyan, Maurice Barrier
Runtime:  106 minutes
Studio:  Arrow Films
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review by . December 17, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Natalie Davis collaborated with the director Daniel Vigne on his film. Davis' story affords her audience a rare glimpse into the world of peasant life in sixteenth century France. Historically, there are only a few times when the everyday lives of the lower social classes receive comment in history or literature. Students of the humanities have only a few primary source books to examine. The Domesday Book is a collection of census records from eleventh century England. The Canterbury Tales are a …
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The Return of Martin Guerre (1983)
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