We don’t know if you feel the same, but we are sure that the French are very good at telling stories. In fact, a large part of contemporary French-language cinema uses the principles of fairy tales or transposes into a colourful and vibrant universe destinies and metaphors in such a special way that it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with. The short film signed by Alberic Saint-Martin thus follows the aesthetic direction imposed by names such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Jaco Van Dormael, proposing a visual treat, a kind of realistic-dreamlike insight into the challenges and whims of a spontaneous marriage. Moreover, even the title of the film, ‘A Husband in Boarding School‘, promises an adventure in which humour, irony and even the absurd play an important role. The structure of the project follows, indeed, some established patterns, but the director manages with talent to give us an invigorating experience that captures our attention, without caring about aspects such as the ironic-preachy dimension of the narrator’s voice, character psychology or the predictability of the narrative thread.


In fact, the narrative stakes are somewhat simple: in order to continue to enjoy the benefits of a consistent inheritance, the members of a family must very quickly find a husband for their daughter. But what is really special about this project is the way in which the image and ingenuity of the acting detached from the well-known antagonist-protagonist profiles are combined in a catchy cinematic narrative. Likewise, everything is supported by stylized period props that somewhat resembles the aesthetics of more recent projects such as ‘Bridgerton’, while the clarity of the light, the quality of the editing, the suggestive chromaticity following complementary shades, the ambient music that vibrates to the sincerity of the characters or to the ironic nuances of the narrator make Alberic Saint-Martin’s short film an excellent example of good mastering of cinematic language. Regardless of the viewers’ appetite for romantic “happily ever after” storylines, ‘A Husband in Boarding School’ is an enjoyable short film that marks the maturity of a complex directorial vision that we are eager to see approaching the structure of a feature film too.


For the professionalism with which it captures a fictional universe on the border between period film and fairy tale, and also for for the compositional coherence that makes this short film a cinematic delight, ‘A Husband in Boarding School’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the January 2021 edition of TMFF.