FILM: Régis Roinsard's French Comedy 'Populaire'

pop If the French are good at one thing, its patisserie. After that it’s love.

Ja’taime, the words every woman wants to hear; and in Régis Roinsard's new French comedy, you have to wait a long time to hear those words; but it’s worth all the laughter and tears to get to it.

The romantic comedy set in 1959 is about Rose Pamphyle who wants to be a young modern woman and is in fact desperate to break away from the suffocating small town she lives in with her equally suffocating father. Her desire to become a secretary is made possible my Echard & Sons insurers but she is in fact a terrible secretary. What she is good at however is typing. Incredibly good. So begins the determined journey she takes with her employer and trainer Louis Echard to get her to the nationals of the speed typewriting competition. And to win.

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But this is a romantic film so we have our complications. There’s Louis Echard, the handsome and kind yet emotionally distant but dashingly damaged hero. He has the War in his past having fought in the resistant where his childhood sweetheart Marie met American Marine Bob who she marries over Louis. Bob and Louis are best friends though those feelings Marie and Louis shared still remain somewhere.

In a bet between both men Louis is determined to make Rose win but as time goes by its more because he believes in her ability and that she deserves to win. To gain all that happiness, but Rose loves Louis and tells him that all she wants is him, not the fame and money. But in his pride he leaves her in Paris believing it’s better to do so but of course, he loves her too.

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The ending is well formulaic in the style of all romantic comedies but the French are just so good at it. Louis comes to his senses and Rose finally believes in herself and at the end it all comes together. With kisses. Ahhh.

Romain Duris is perfect. He possesses a strange old school Gallic charm that I can’t quite figure out. He isn’t attractive in a conventional sense but he has a very expressive face with is incredibly versatile and works brilliantly in comedy as proved in this as well as Heartbreaker. He is matched equally by the wonderful Deborah Francois who has moved from a role such as The Page Turner to a small town ditzy girl who finds love via the typewriter. She is whimsical in her performance and charismatic.

This film is just charming from beginning to end. It possesses so much humour it’s wonderful. The costume is spot on gorgeous 1950’s outfits as well as more smoking than a crack den of crack heads smoking crack. You get the idea; it was the 50’s et al.

As all good romantic comedies should do, you leave with a massive smile on your face.