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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marie's Story is a 2014 French film based on the true story of a blind and deaf girl who learns to communicate with the outside world with the help of a determined nun with struggles of her own. Some of the scenes are too intense for younger viewers, especially scenes in which Marie, unable to communicate and confused by her recent separation from her parents to a deaf school, helplessly screams and punches anything or anyone around her. This movie also deals frankly with the death of one of the lead characters. As this is a French movie with English subtitles, it could be challenging for kids learning to read to follow along. Overall, this movie is a beautiful exploration of a young nun's willingness to take on a difficult challenge, to persevere, and to reveal the possibilities of life to someone who was never given the chance.
What's the story?
In the countryside of France during the late 19th century, MARIE'S STORY begins. Marie (Ariana Rivoire) is a 14-year-old deaf and blind girl whose aging parents take her to a school for the deaf run by nuns in the hopes that the nuns will take her in so Marie doesn't have to go to an asylum. While the nuns are hesitant -- Marie, unable to communicate, shrieks like a feral animal and is apt to punching anyone who gets in her way -- a young nun named Marguerite (Isabelle Carre) decides to step up to the challenge and offers to take care of Marie. For months, the task is incredibly difficult -- Marie is resistant at every turn -- but after building trust, Marie finally understands when Marguerite teaches her the sign for "knife," and from there, Marie shows an insatiable curiosity to learn the names for everything around her and to communicate through sign language in complete sentences. But her breakthroughs hit a snag when she learns that Marguerite is dying of tuberculosis. Marie must learn to accept death and to go on and find ways to help other girls with similar disabilities.
Is it any good?
This film is both a tearjerker and an inspirational movie based on the true story of a deaf and blind 14-year-old girl in France who is taught to communicate by a patient young nun. The acting is impressive, and the story never loses sight of this special relationship between Marie and Sister Marguerite. While it's easy enough to anticipate where the story goes, it's the journey itself that makes this worthwhile, and by being liberated to express herself to those around her, Marie is given a chance for life and dignity at a time when people with her disability would be just as likely to be left in the darkness of an asylum.
And that's what makes Marie's Story so special. At a time when the only real options for Marie's parents were to take her to an asylum or to a deaf school run by nuns, it's a testament to the resiliency, patience, and perseverance of Sister Marguerite that she would take on the challenge of teaching Marie how to communicate, when society and even the other nuns around her told her Marie was unteachable. In a time when so many movies show one-dimensional conceptions of bravery and integrity, Marie's Story shows that there are greater depths to these values and that they can be translated into film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies like Marie's Story based on true stories. What would be the challenges in turning a real-life event or experience into a movie?
- In theaters: August 19, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 2015
- Cast: Ariana Rivoire, Isabelle Carre, Brigitte Catillon
- Director: Jean-Pierre Ameris
- Studio: Film Movement
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great girl role models, History
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Courage, Curiosity, Empathy, Gratitude, Humility, Perseverance
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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