Populaire Review

Populaire

You remember that secretarial film which turned Maggie Gyllenhaal into a sort of household name?

Ok, in my household.

Well, Populaire is kind of like the French version of Secretary, only all that kinkiness has been replaced with the sexy world of, ah, competitive speed typing?

Rose Pamphyle is a small town girl, growing up in a lonely world in sort of rural France.

Raised by her father after the untimely passing of Maman Pamphyle, Rose leads a less than thrilling existence for a girl growing up in 1950’s France.

What she really wants in this new, modern world is to make something of herself, which, back in the good old days, meant one thing: becoming a secretary.

So Rose plots an escape route from her dreary existence using the one skill every girl must master to make herself indispensable to men; typing.

As luck would have it, a moderately successful insurance salesman by the name of Louis Echard lives in the closest thing to a city near Miss Pamphyle’s home town and is on the prowl for a new secretary.

And once he witnesses Rose’s special skill, Echard decides she’s the only girl for his job.

Sort of.

You see, Monsieur Echard has other plans in mind for his new protégé and already has designs on entering her… Into a local typing contest.

Populaire

Now the idea of a film about the less than thrilling world of competitive speed typing doesn’t seem like the most obvious subject to base a winning romantic comedy on, but that’s exactly what director Regis Roinsard has managed with his tres magnifique debut film Populaire.

Exquisitely made and produced, the look and feel of Roinsard’s film immediately transports you back in time late fifties France, while his simple sounding story of girl meets boy transcends this basic premise thanks to the layered and nuanced screenplay the French auteur also scripted.

And when you add the chemistry between Romain Duris and Deborah Francois as Louis and Rose respectively, Populaire’s simple pleasures of good actors act out a good story.

I was lucky enough to enjoy the company of all three at the Rendez-vous French Film Festival this month, with the effortless gallic charm of Roinsard, a day-dreaming Duris and my latest acting crush Francois present for a question and answer session providing their combined insight into Populaire.

So Populaire may not be as famous or kinky as another film about a secretary, it is a whole lot more than this though.

Jonathan Campbell

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