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The Town Is Quiet

     Since 1980, French director Robert Guideguian has been enmeshed in an ongoing filmmaking project without parallel in the history of cinema: twelve feature films to date, all filmed in his home city of Marseilles and all featuring the same three versatile actors: Ariane Ascaride, the filmmaker's wife, also Jean-Pierre Darrousin and Gerard Meylin. For The Town in Quiet (2000), their eleventh collaboration, Ascaride plays a working class woman with a cowardly, mean-spirited husband three years on the dole and a junkie daughter who ignores her bastard child and hooks for drug money. Darrousin is a lonely cab driver who falls for Ascaride, paying her for sex with francs which she then uses to purchase heroin for her helpless daughter. Meylin is the tough, laconic outsider who is a middleman in Ascaride's drug buying, and also is a marksman whose eventual target is a smug ultra-right politician. What could be an impossibly melodramatic story is unfolded with care and restraint by the much-talented Guideguian, who even manages an optimistic tag onto this most pessimistic of Marseilles stories.

(June, 2002)

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