[Critique] “The hour of secrets”: between pralines and mothballs

Slowly, contemplatively, an old man climbs a gently sloping path on the side of the mountain. Il s’appelle Marcel, Marcel Pagnol, et voici que les lieux lui remémorent un été, jadis… Si l’on connaît autant la Provence, c’est beaucoup grace à ce célèbre dramaturge, écrivain et cinéaste, à qui l’on doit Among others the baker’s wife, John of FloretteY Manon of the sources. In the film the time of secretsExtracted from the third volume of Pagnol’s childhood memories, we find the latter during the rural holidays before entering high school, between the reunion with the local friend Lili and the discovery of love in the person of Isabelle.

It is Christophe Barratier, a specialist in nostalgic praline productions such as the showgirls, Suburb 36 Y The new button war, which holds the project bar. For the record, the first two volumes of Marcel Pagnol’s childhood memories, ie. my mother’s castle Y the glory of my fatherthey were successfully adapted by Yves Robert in 1990. Reverently, Christophe Barratier not only took over the once privileged sunny postcard style, but also shot in the same house as the one some 30 years ago.

A true earthly paradise, as the atheist father of little Marcel comments, the place and its surroundings are thus filmed according to the bucolic approach.

charming interpretation

On the periphery of Marcel’s heartbreak as he abandons his faithful friend Lili in favor of the beautiful but capricious Isabelle, his parents experience their own tensions as the father winks at the local baker and the mother takes an interest in the move. feminist (excellent Mélanie Doutey, at the heart of an unfinished subplot). She notes that the treatment of a juvenile fight “for honor” may draw attention in the wake of the Will Smith affair.

Relaxed and often languid, the framing serves above all as a pretext for a series of scenes whose picturesque charm sometimes becomes breathless, to the point of smelling mothballs.

On the other hand, the interpretation is generally charming, that of the children in particular, certain adults sometimes forcing the typed side.

But again, the time of secrets it is clearly a film that knows what audience it is targeting; a public that probably asks for nothing better than to dream, thanks to all these magnificent Provençal landscapes, of a largely fantasized yesterday. In this, the film fulfills the mandate it gives itself.

the time of secrets


Dramatic comedy by Christophe Barratier. With Léo Campion, Mélanie Doutey, Guillaume de Tonquédec, François-Xavier Demaison, Anne Charrier, Baptiste Negrel, Lucie Loste Berset. France, 2022, 108 minutes. Indoors.

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