It's impossible not to be charmed by this cheeky French comedy, even if it's utterly predictable and never remotely breaks its gorgeously designed surfaces. But it's packed with moments of riotous comedy and surprising drama that keep us on our toes, almost making us forget that we're watching a foreign movie about a typing competition. It also has a secret weapon in Romain Duris, an unconventional romantic lead who's irresistibly appealing.
The period is the late 1950s, when life for a young woman in a tiny village didn't offer many options. After years working for her shop-owner father (Pierrot), Rose (Francois) finally breaks free, applying for a secretarial job in a nearby town. Despite having no experience, insurance broker Louis (Duris) sees a spark in her and gives her a shot. As they begin to flirt, Louis notices that Rose is eerily adept at typing with two fingers, and he enters her in a local competition, which she wins. As she rises through the national rankings, she begins to fall for him. But he's reluctant to let his guard down after the woman he has always loved, Marie (Bejo), married his best friend Bob (Benson).
Filmmaker Roinsard has a great eye for recreating the period, shooting scenes with the same attention to detail as an episode of Mad Men, but with a lot more sassy humour. He also lets his crew go wild with stylish hair and colourful costumes, plus a fantastic song score. In this post-War setting, the actors are able to catch us off guard with their attitudes to class, politics and most notably gender. Francois gives Rose a feisty determination that's wonderful to watch, because we root for her to break through a multitude of barriers. And opposite her Duris gives another prickly but likeable turn as a not always attractive man who clearly has real depth.
Not that we see much of that. The film is so gleefully preoccupied with the breezy comedy that it never really grapples with the pointed issues it raises. But as a bit of frothy fun, movies don't get much more entertaining than this. And there are some strikingly strong moments along the way, from the sweet and almost painfully cute central romance to some punchy scenes with supporting players (including a remarkable moment between Bejo and Duris). Frankly, it'll take a couple of days afterwards to get that smile off your face.
Run time: 111 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 28th November 2012
Box Office USA: $0.2M
Distributed by: The Weinstein Company
Production compaines: Les Productions du Trésor, Compagnie Cinématographique Européenne, Panache Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 16
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Regis Roinsard
Producer: Alain Attal
Screenwriter: Regis Roinsard, Daniel Presley, Romain Compingt
Starring: Romain Duris as Louis Échard, Déborah François as Rose Pamphyle, Bérénice Bejo as Marie Taylor, Shaun Benson as Bob Taylor, Mélanie Bernier as Annie Leprince Ringuet, Nicolas Bedos as Gilbert Japy, Miou-Miou as Madeleine Échard, Eddy Mitchell as Georges Échard, Frédéric Pierrot as Jean Pamphyle, Marius Colucci as Lucien Échard, Emeline Bayart as Jacqueline Échard, Yannik Landrein as Léonard Echard, Nastassja Girard as Evelyne Échard, Caroline Tillette as La vamp, Jeanne Cohendy as Françoise
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