To cement his new role as director, Danny Auteuil turns to the writer that first helped him gain him international prestige - Marcel Pagnol's Jean De Florette and Manon Des Sources marked the then thirty-six year old as a talent. While Auteuil might have chosen plays that that won't stretch him with massive set ups in his nascent directorial career - Fanny is basically a series of long scenes in small rooms - he's adept at moving along the rather talky script with a brisk pace. And it's fun.
Part two of the so-called Marseille Trilogy (Marius is already out, César is in production) the pleasures of Fanny could have easily slipped this reviewer by; having missed the first instalment I feared I would be lost as to what's going on but Fanny works as a standalone story, bringing the audience up to speed on who's who and what's what pretty quickly. So even if you've missed Marius, don't miss Fanny.
With Fanny (Bélézy) heartbroken that her lover Marius (Personnaz) has left her for a life at sea, she has nothing to do but hang around the harbour bar, run by Marius' father César (Auteuil), who is not happy that his son has disappeared. Because she is pregnant, Fanny can't wait on Marius forever and, wary of the shame a baby out of wedlock will bring on her family, ponders the marriage proposal made by Panisse (Darroussin), a kind but elderly businessman.
It's all OTT but delightfully so. This is the kind of story where characters could actually die of shame or a broken heart. No one does, but that's because Pagnol decided against it. There are regular swooning episodes, however. But Auteuil never lets the melodrama outweigh the fun, slipping in jokes in the middle of dramatic scenes.
Sometimes the plot creaks under the strain of convenience and the ability of characters to jump to correct conclusions based on the flimsiest of information - if César told me I possess a jam scone in my front pocket right now I'd have to pat myself down to make sure - but Fanny is never short of entertaining. That's down to Pagnol's archetype characters, Auteuil's pacey direction and the committed cast.