Friday, 7 June 2013

Film Review: Populaire (2012)

Director: Régis Roinsard
Writer: Régis Roinsard, Daniel Presley and Romain Compingt
Stars: Romain Duris, Déborah François and Bérénice Bejo

Populaire is a delightfully fresh, fun, and light French comedy, the kind of which Hollywood seem incapable of producing in recent years. Not a curse word, not a crude joke, and no references to modern pop culture for a cheap laugh.

Set in 1958, the film tells the simple story of Rose, a young woman with a very special skill in that she can type like no one you’ve seen type before; she’d have typed this review twice before you’d even finished reading it. This gets her a job as a secretary at a small insurance with a very handsome manager (a French Mad Men of sorts, minus all the promiscuity) and a chance to compete at the National and World Typewriting Championships. Yes, this is a romantic comedy about typewriting, and remains romantic and comedic throughout.

What follows is a first hour of sheer charm and wonderful boy-meets-girl scenes set in the backdrop of 1950s France. The music is lively and upbeat, the costumes and set design are vibrant with colour and the wonderfull sense of style from the era, and the film is knowingly cute without ever becoming sickening. The Rocky-style montage scenes of Rose training to type faster are delightful because you really do root for her to improve, and the use of commentators at the typing championships evokes more sport-genre infusions in this little tale of one woman’s shot at the title.

Moreover, anyone who doesn’t smile at the scene where the friends dance to Jacqueline Boyer’s Le Tango des Illusions must have a heart of stone. Dark, cold stone.

As good as the first hour is, the film does suffer from a predictable storyline and the script’s need for boy to lose girl is too forced and the script’s need for boy to win girl back again is too sudden. A film with such a wonderfully original hook as the typewriting championship needn’t have relied on the traditional formulaic story arcs, because the direction, performances, period-setting, and soundtrack give it an immediate advantage over 99% of all other comedies released this year, so Populaire is something of a missed opportunity for true greatness.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: What Populaire is, is the most charming film you’ll see all year and a must-see for anyone who wants to see a harkening back to the days of Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn James Stewart, and Cary Grant. There’s a reason why the films of the 1950s are still so watchable, and Populaire will help to remind you whilst winning a place for it in your heart, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment