Marguerite’s Theorem **
Franco-Swiss film, 1h52
Marguerite Hoffman does not go unnoticed at the École Normale Supérieure: in this closed environment, she does not take off her slippers (“It’s comfortable,” she quietly pleads to those who are surprised) and she is the only woman in the final year of her mathematics thesis. For her, this discipline represents “a means of bringing order to infinity”. The subject of his thesis? Demonstrate a part of Goldbach’s conjecture on which generations of mathematicians have already worked.
Before her defense, Marguerite must present the state of her research to an assembly of scientists, but Lucas, also a brilliant doctoral student of Laurent Werner, her research director, questions her on one point. And Marguerite’s entire demonstration collapses. Rather than finding another thesis subject, the student runs away. She doesn’t care about having to repay four years of salary at school: from now on Marguerite no longer wants to have any connection with mathematics and is starting a new life far from her bearings.
An obsession with mathematics on the verge of madness
Revelation of the film, the Franco-Swiss actress Ella Rumpf imposes a fascinating Marguerite with her deep voice as if sealed inside herself, her awkward and determined walk, as well as her uncertain knowledge of social codes. In an interesting counter-job, Jean-Pierre Darroussin plays a research director who refuses to put feelings into his work. With the mischievous Lucas (Julien Frison) and the vibrant Noa (Sonia Bonny), her roommate, life enters into the daily life of Marguerite who reconsiders in small ways her relationship with others until then centered essentially on her relationship with a mother too anxious (Clotilde Courau).
If the film follows a relatively conventional narrative, it makes the obsession with mathematics on the verge of madness palpable, without excluding a few notes of humor. It was through her meeting with Ariane Mézard, one of the rare female mathematicians, that Anna Novion (Les Grandes Personnes and Rendez-vous à Kiruna) had access to the poetry of this universe. For the film, the researcher found a thesis subject and a path towards the result – “three or four years of work, the time of a doctorate”, explains the scientist. The filmmaker was able to make this language, unknown to most of us, cinematic.