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Following in the footsteps of the Academy Award-winning 'The Artist',
'Populaire' pays loving tribute to the motion pictures from a bygone
era. Whereas it was the silent movies of the 1920s in the case of the
former, the latter sets its sights on the crowd-pleasing Hollywood
comedies of the 1950s and 60s, a fact clearly evident right from its
animated opening credits which look like something straight out of a
Billy Wilder movie.
Then, movies were much simpler and sweeter, and indeed one should similarly expect the same of 'Populaire'. A classic rom-com that pits the slightly naïve 21-year-old village girl Rose Pamphyle (Deborah Francois) with her dapper city boss Louis (Romain Duris) to whom she is secretary to, it follows a pretty straightforward trajectory built around the world of competitive speed typing, so if you're looking for any surprises in the storytelling, then you're likely to be disappointed.
But what it lacks in novelty, it certainly makes for up in dollops of charm, so much so that we're willing to guarantee that you'll find much truth in its hyperbolic marketing tagline that proclaims it "the most enchanting romantic comedy since Amelie". There is something magical about the fit between actor and character here, a truly entrancing quality about how Francois plays Rose sweet, shy and klutzy and how Duris cuts a suave, dashing and debonair figure in Louis.
Just as, if not more, importantly, is how Rose and Louis make an exceedingly appealing couple, be it in their prickly initial encounters or their subsequent intimate engagements. Francois and Duris share zingy chemistry in their scenes together, the lively manner in which they trade barbs and words of affection bound to keep a smile on your face. Their spirited repartee is also thanks to a witty and engaging script, which pays close and sharp attention to the evolving dynamic between its characters.
Just as well-observed is the sport of competitive speed-typing, which plays a central role in the evolving relationship between Rose and Louis. Rather than give up on the otherwise dreamy and absent-minded Rose, Louis recognises her single uncanny gift of typing very quickly, prompting him to propose an unusual arrangement in which he trains her for competitions in exchange for keeping her job as his secretary. Needless to say, she improves swiftly under his tutelage, progressing from regionals to nationals and finally to internationals, the title of the film a reference to her newfound popularity as well as the name of the typewriter she does a celebrity endorsement for.
We know you're thinking how a bunch of mostly middle-aged women in thick-rimmed glasses hammering away at ancient typewriters can be anything exciting. Well, that's where you are absolutely wrong. There is pure thrill to be had in each one of these competitions, the combined effect of whirling dolly shots and some sharp editing combining to inject much excitement into the repetition of pounding keystrokes and slamming carriages. Never for once failing to amaze with the intensity and concentration required of participants in such competitions, it suitably jazzes up what one would assume a sedate activity, let alone a sport.
The staging of these contests is but one illustration of how impressive the mise-en-scene of the movie, which is even more amazing for the fact that this is also director Regis Roinsard's feature filmmaking debut. Roinsard, who also co-wrote the script with Daniel Presley and Romain Compingt, combines detailed set and costume design by Sylvie Olive and Charlotte David with a classy score by Rob and Emmanuel d'Orlando and classic French oldies from the likes of Jacqueline Boyer, Jack Ary and Les Chausettes Noires, the effect of all these various elements making for a remarkably rich and authentic period portrait.
Especially as modern-day films revel in greater shades of grey, it is refreshing to see a movie whose pleasures are so elemental and yet deeply enjoyable. "Populaire" harks back to the days of the Doris Day rom-coms even as it also pays homage to other classic films of the same era, most notably Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" offering a delightfully buoyant time brimming with wit, humour and passion. Excuse the pun if you're looking for a movie to lift your spirits, this one strikes all the right keys.
In 1958, the young Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François) dreams on leaving
the small village in the countryside of France where she lives with her
grumpy father Jean Pamphyle (Frédéric Pierrot), who is a widower that
runs a store and wishes that Rose get married to the son of the local
mechanic. Rose learns by herself how to type using only two fingers and
when she sees an advertisement for a secretary for the insurance agent
Louis Échard (Romain Duris) in Lisieux, Lower Normandy, she immediately
travels to city.
Rose has a bad interview but she impresses Louis typing at very high speed. Louis decides to hire her for a short period of experience and Rose shows that she is a clumsy secretary. But Louis is a former sportsman and he decides to train Rose how to type correctly to dispute a speed typing competition. He brings Rose to his home and she learns how to play piano to help her typing with Louis's childhood friend Marie Taylor (Bérénice Bejo) that is married with the American Bob Taylor (Shaun Benson). She becomes close to his friends and family. Rose becomes the fastest typist in France and now she needs to train to compete in the world title in USA. But Louis, who has fallen in love with her, believes that he is not enough to help her and decides to sacrifice his love to make Rose's dream come true. Is his attitude correct?
"Populaire" is another sweet French romantic comedy, with stunning art direction and two of the most contemporary charming French actress, the unknown Déborah François and the lovely Bérénice Bejo that became internationally famous with "The Artist". "Populaire" is not a masterpiece, has ups and downs, but is delightful to see and one of the most entertaining movies that I have seen this year. It is also nostalgic, for experienced viewers like me. Any fan of romantic comedies will certainly love the clumsy but charming Rose Pamphyle. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "A Datilógrafa" ("The Typist")
The last time I went to the movies was for Avatar but walking through yet another snowstorm in Montréal I decided I was up for a light and colourful movie, and didn't care much what the story was about. So Populaire was a pleasant surprise as the premise is fresh and interesting. It's the story of a young and pretty typist so fast on her typewriter that her boss challenges her to win a few typing competitions. So it's like every sports film with the bonus of a love story. The third act is a bit unnecessary and repetitive but the movie is quite adept at walking the fine line between stylish and kitsch. Plus, in it's subtle way, Populaire shows us what it was probably like to be a working girl in the late fifties. The movie works best when focusing on the relationship between the two leads. They are quite charming ( if I were a girl I would sure paint my nails the way she does !). Better than the poor box-office in France led me to believe.
If it weren't for the very specific year during which the action in this movie is set, the perfect music for this would have been 10cc's 'I'm Not in Love' - Of course Louis is in love, and only he doesn't realise it. You can forgive him, after all, this is post second world war and he has lost too many meaningful people to want to risk another loss. Rose has perfect visceral understanding of the feelings of those around her. She's also a super-fast one finger typist. We 21st century equivalents may have super-fast thumbs instead. The period feel, superb costumes and believable dialogue make this a very satisfying production. Not sure about the brief bedroom scene that doesn't belong here. Fancy a good, uplifting entertainment, choose this!
My daughter recently saw this film at a festival in Philadelphia and
insisted I should see it as well. Fortunately, it's now streaming on
Netflix and I got a chance to see it myself today.
The subject matter for this film is incredibly mundane--so mundane and dull that it's a wonder that the film would hold your interest. However, it managed very well. Who would have thought a film about a woman training to be a speed-typing world champion could be so much fun? Plus, while I am not sure about this, I assume there never has been any sort of international speed-typing competition and I KNOW if there had been one, they wouldn't have been celebrities like the folks in this film. However, I kind of liked this, as it was a bit silly and added to the kooky charm of the film.
The movie begins with Rose (Déborah François) leaving her small town and going to the city to get a job as a secretary. However, despite being able to type remarkably fast using the hunt and peck method, she isn't a very good secretary. However, her grouchy boss, Louis (Romain Duris) hires her anyway, as he's VERY impressed by her typing. However, it's soon obvious he's not that interested in her being a secretary and much more interested in training her to be a speed-typing champion. He moves her into his home, cooks for her and coaches her unmercifully--all to make her a champion. However, despite Rose winning competition after competition, Louis never acts happy--and keeps driving her. Rose is adorable and sweet, and yet Louis is almost machine-like in his detachment. What's next? See this strange and quirky film.
The best thing about the film is its design. I love the late 1950s look and unlike some period films, this one tried very, very hard to get the look right. I also loved Rose as a characters. But the film also had problems. Despite liking it very much, Louis' character is too unlikable--and her falling for him (like Liza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady") made no sense. Sure, he's handsome but he's also incredibly selfish and under-emotive. Additionally, the film is pure formula throughout--the only difference are all the nice trappings and nice way the director handled the familiar themes. Overall, a great date movie and a nice rom-com that isn't too demanding. I would like to give the film a 7.5, though IMDb won't allow that. I enjoyed it a lot even with its clichés (such as how Rose's father behaves late in the film).
By the way, I looked it up and there really was a Japy typewriter company in France--it was not created for the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Another piece of delightful French cinematography, an entertaining romance-comedy with predictable twists and a happy ending that the viewer looks forward to and gratifies him/her fully. Set in the late fifties, the story may sound a little pretentious, in the presentation of the typewriter as the symbol of post-war renaissance, and there is may be some exaggeration in the often kitsch representation of those years, but the story and the mood are well consciously built, with the aim to appeal the viewer with pastel colours, predictable but entertaining situations, lulled by Debussy notes. The couple Rose-Louis is very convincing, delicate and amusing at the same time. So, if you need a pleasant, well made and well interpreted comedy, here you have one to enjoy.
A French comedy, set in the late 1950s, and centering around a typing championship? Yes, bizarre, and warm and funny. I liked it a lot.
The star here is the completely delightful Deborah Francois, who is cast and who acts a bit like an Audrey Hepburn type, which is a total compliment. Not that Francois needs that kind of comparisonshe takes on the task of learning to type with enormous focus and humble prowess. With two fingers. And she almost wins a competition that way.
Enter the other star, a bigger name in France, Romain Duris. He's a comic oddball, meant to be very handsome but not a hunk (sorry Romain). He depends on his wry, underplayed humor to win the hearts of the females in each movieand in the audience. He takes on Francois with the idea of teaching her to use all her fingers and maybe, with some serious athletic training, compete for the big time. At typing.
It's a farce, but overflowing with charm. The sets and colors are wonderful per- 60s "gay" and light. French style. There is an ongoing critique built in (in a watery way) about how women in that era have typing as their ultimate goal. And typing for men. The irony (and falseness) are apparent.
There is inevitably a troubled romance that gets stirred in the mixand it's a classic mismatch made in heaven.
In all, well done, funny, and smart. And styling right to the end with the big finalewell, I can't say where or why. See it.
This film is about a woman who is a bad secretary, but a super fast
typist. Her boss employs her just to enter typing competitions.
"Populaire" tells a story of a girl who is shot down by almost everyone in her life. She treasures her job as a secretary, but she is just not up to it. Her boss trains her intensely for the typing competitions. Along her way to glory, she encounters supportive acquaintances and a complicated love affair. The story is very engaging, and the music during typing competitions are very pleasing to hear as well. Rose is a sweet and hardworking girl, she is a lovable character that connects with the viewers. To see Rose getting all the attention she deserves, and even more, is very satisfying, the ending is so poignant that will surely captivate anyone. Who would have thought, that a film about a machine that is irrelevant in today's society would be so intensely engaging?
It might feel simple in its premise (what romantic comedy doesn't? Only
a few might have a real complex story), but the actors are really good
in it. Actually it is very reminiscent of classic movies and its not a
coincidence that the costumes and or haircuts are very much in the
style of Audrey Hepburn. It could have starred the actress from the
past easily and feel the same.
So while the viewer might know where this movie is leading (no real surprise here), it is the journey that makes it worthwhile. Rich, poor it doesn't really matter, as long as you follow your dreams. Whatever they are and whatever obstacles are in your way.
Populaire is the shiny pearl type of movie. Simple enough to be worn
regularly and noticeable enough to be more than a touch of color. The
typical 50's pastel and soft colors are everywhere in the movie, except
when the tone of the story turns less glamour and kitsch to become more
intimate. Then the colors turn brighter, sharper and more intense...
following the scene moods.
I had no idea about what kind of movie my friends dragged me to but I have to recognize this was a very pleasant surprise. The lead actors (Deborah François and Romain Duris) are carrying the whole movie and it turned way more thrilling that I could expect at first from a type machine competition movie.
There is some sense of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady where love is in the air even though it wasn't the initial purpose. When a young, pretty and innocent girl is coached by her boss, she turns into an accomplished and genuine beautiful Lady.
If you're planning a nice movie sessionflick with your soulmate, without complicated plot or senseless violence and you want to ensure you'll finish smiling at the end, go for Populaire, worths it !!!
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