Home » The life of Jean-Marie (2015)

The film “The life of Jean-Marie” is a form of observational cinema (cinéma vérité) as well as being a feelgood movie. Jean-Marie is the eldest son of a large family, of which the Dutch father bought a mountain in the French Pyrenees in 1948. Now he is a pastor for 25 villages located in the area. 
Jean-Marie speak of the harsh rejection by the great love of his youth in the village of Olette, his subsequent taking of the cloth as well as his spiritual love for his neighbour later in life. With his simplicity, openness and humour he manages to move us all. At the age of 75, he makes a drastic decision that leaves everyone baffled.

The life of Jean-Marie is now available on the IFFR platform Unleashed. Watch it here.

Review overview

Editorial IFFR
Beautiful, poetic documentary portrait of an aged Dutch pastor who – probably as the very last one – watches over the spiritual life of about 25 villages in the French Pyrenees and does so with an unprecedented vivacity, sincerity and sensitivity for female beauty. Long, but very infectious. Read the full text here. 

Margriet Kemper, publisher
The opening shot was perfect: powerful, poetic and super realistic and super concrete because of the twigs and leaves that fell on the lens. The the burst of color with Jean-Marie in his cobalt blue overall amidst the flowers. The artist that you are is very convincing. Read the full text here.

Edine Wijnands, BN De Stem
It is a beautiful story. About God and mankind. About love and time. And about heaven and earth. Filmed in such a way that the viewer have to love the priest. He is authentic, with all his doubts, honesty and humor. Read the full text here.

Mark Baker, Daily Tiger 
The life of Jean-Marie is a poetic, 166-minute portrait of septuagenarian Dutch pastor. (…) Peter van Houten filmed Jean-Marie over a six year period, from 2004 till 2010. (…) ‘He gave me carte blanche. He liked being filmed, referring to the camera as a curious little boy. Read the full text here.

Review Indiepix
A colorful portrait of a man who turned to his religious calling after being rejected by the love of his life. Read the full text here.

Dennis Villadom, Nextprojection.com
At 2 hours, 46 minutes, the documentary often has a rambling feel, and some judicious editing would definitely improve the pace, which suggests the laid-back existence of Jean-Marie and the mountain people he visits. There’s a sense that the elderly priest is often preening for the camera and is enjoying being the “star” of his own movie, yet what emerges is a touching portrait of a dedicated man.  Read the full text here.

Review C.P.F. Swietek
Filmmaker Peter van Houten delivers an intimate portrait of an elfin septuagenarian priest serving a collection of small parishes in the French Pyrenees. A lyrical film, this is highly recommended. Read the full text here

Read all the English reviews here.

Production Peter van Houten / Anna Zharkov Film Scenario Peter van Houten Camera Peter van Houten Editor Peter van Houten Cast Jean-Marie Raaymakers, Marie-Claire Batlle, Chantal Crew Peter van Houten, Cilly v.d. Eerden Film locations Olette and Prades (France Pyrenees) Audio Post Production Rut Uijtendaal Color Correction Martin Klein Cinematography Peter van Houten Subtitling Cilly van der Eerden, Peter van Houten English translation Gerrie Timmermans French translation Wim Spapens, Marie-Luc Bakkers, Claire Jansen-Frasse Show Olette , Angles noir Music Choral Girl from Jujols, Neu d’el Canigo Suzette Fabresse, Ave Maria Katarzyna Ewald-Alemany Supported by The Future Store, Filmmore Sales Anna Zharkov Film Subtitles DCP English, French, Dutch Playing time 166′ Year 2015