Auteuil's second film, Marius, finds him working in the port-city environs of Pagnol's Marseilles trilogy. (The second entry, Fanny, will be released here later this month. Auteuil will shoot the third film, César, soon.) Marius offers a standard-issue melodrama plot — Marius (Raphaël Personnaz) is torn between loyalty to his father, César (Auteuil); love for his childhood friend, Fanny (Victoire Bélézy); and a romantic longing to leave home and live the life of a seaman — in order to grapple with class struggle and familial bonds.
Auteuil buries himself in the values of the period, prioritizing a sense of honor and labor (numerous scenes have Marius and César stacking chairs, mixing drinks, and cleaning glasses). Though there's a certain pleasure in the artificial-looking sets and the committed ensemble -- Auteuil, in particular, can land a killer, platitude-laden speech seemingly on demand -- Auteuil doesn't distance himself enough from the era to allow room for critique. As a result, the old-fashioned attitudes on display are accepted with open arms rather than reckoned with.