The story begins with a close-up of the main character of the film, Marvin (Finnigan Oldfield), who is getting ready in his dressing room, before – what we presume from the beginning – a theatrical performance. On the screen we see then a chair inside a little pool and a red room. Nothing really clear from the start, but it gives the idea of what we are going to see.
During the film, Fontaine mixes scenes from Marvin’s childhood with scenes from his present life, giving a wider view of the construction of his personality and his habits. Throughout his childhood, Marvin has been abused and bullied, both in school as at home, making him more and more introvert and antisocial. Important in the structure of the film is the new principal at school, Mrs. Clement (Catherine Mouchet), who helps Marvin go through school without feeling lonely and inadequate. Marvin is a great actor and Mrs Clement helps him into an acting high school in Paris, where he finally finds his place in the world.
Marvin is working on a monologue based on his childhood as an homosexual boy in this small town, where social minorities were considered something evil. At a party he meets a man, with whom he falls in love, despite his role as the man’s little “toy”. One day he meets Isabelle Huppert and they bond, so much that she plays a part in his pièce. A touching and intense double monologue between Marvin – now called Martin Clement – and his mother – performed by Isabelle on stage. Thanks to this work, Marvin finally understands his family, getting to what seems a reconciliation with his past and all the problems with his family.
Fontaine’s work is amazing. She captures the essence of the main character of the film through close-ups and a well done montage. Even the film is theatrical somehow, keeping the spectator hooked to the screen. The alternating chaos and quietness become the reflection of Marvin’s emotions, thanks also to the careful selection of music.