Sweet, Romantic, but Competitive. Three days late, but this could have been a great Valentine’s Day film to watch. On top, with the Sochi Olympic games that are still going on, it may give you a new perspective and appreciation of the importance of training and practises an athlete must endure in spite of the sport they participate in. However, getting to the finishing line is always about timing, luck and lots of love. The sport here was typing on a mechanical typewriter. If you are younger than 50, you might have a vague or no idea what it was, but if you are older, you will remember it used to be a Grade 10 credit. In other words, maybe for a “new 40s and plus ” crowd. Anyway, this film was about rise-to-the-pinnacle that wrapped in a romcom, and sans Hollywood magic. The closest to Hollywood is perhaps Bérénice Bejo(Oscar Nominee -The Artist), who played a housewife( Guess the casting intent was to sell the film across the Atlantic, but I doubt it happened).
1958: Rose Pamphyle(Déborah François) is a small town girl that refuses to work in her widowed father’s grocery store for the rest of her life or get married to the local mechanics. Secretarial services is à la mode, and a typewriter sitting in the store display inspires her to get out of town and look for a secretary job.
Louis Échard(Romain Duris), a successful owner of an insurance company, is interviewing a long queue of candidates for a secretary posting. Rose impresses him with her two-digits typing speed, and becomes his secretary. Louis is much older than Rose, so there is always a distance between the two, although it is clear Rose is quickly falling in love with her boss.
Duris was not your typical leading man that graced the silver screen, but he carried a sort of geeky charmant that was hard to describe. François, on the other hand, was young, pretty, and with skin that was like cream. Oui, La Belle et La Bête?! peut-être. Louis lives in his family cottage that Rose describes it as grand as the one in Gone with the Wind, so perhaps, I am right of the subtle reference.
After losing at her first typing contest, Louis becomes Rose trainer. He houses her, feeds her, inspires her, … Finally she wins the regional, and repesents Basse-Normandie in the National competition, against the current champ of Ile-de France. The Holy-Grail of all competitions will be the International one held in New York City.
To avoid a linear storyline(train and success), best friend, Bob Taylor(Shaun Benson– Canadian from Geulph, yea!) with an English accent was mostly there to tell the story of a happy family, a beautiful wife, Marie Taylor(Bérénice Bejo), the perfect 50’s family. In the coulisse, moreover, was Louis’s undying love for best friend Bob’s wife, Marie. Even Rose could tell Louis was still in love with Marie. This was the 50’s, marriage was sacré, I guess they remained friends. On the other hand, these were French, mistress of a friend’s wife was totally probable. Nonetheless, in a later scene, Marie proved the relevancy of her character, and it was quite moving. There were also vignettes of Christmas at Louis’s family dinner, and Rose’s father gradual acceptance of her making IT.
The subtext is that Louis was himself an athlete, but he never won anything, including the girl he loves. The cliché of singlehood, selfishness, blah, blah… and redemption through the young, ambitious, goal-oriented,…BUT it worked.
The last five minutes may not redefine Here’s looking at you, kid; it certainly may give you a squish-squish moment!
This film was true to the 50’s style with background music and songs, like Debussy’s Clair de Lune, costumes, colours, and makeup that were bang-on. Think McGregor and Zellweger‘s Down with Love (2003).
WATCH…French love story that focuses on woman’s ability and capbility: ça change même pour les Français!