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.
Continue reading: Populaire Review
Rose Pamphyle is a 21-year-old French girl in the 1950s living in dread of the inevitable life of a housewife; invisible to the rest of the world and living in the shadow of her fiancé, a local mechanic. Desperate to pave a more fulfilling path in life, she seeks out a job as a secretary and lands an interview with the head of an insurance company who happens to be the handsome and magnetic Louis Echard. Unfortunately, she makes a terrible mess of the interview and proves to be unfit for the important role. However, Echard is taken aback when he witnesses Rose's fingers flying across a typewriter at an incredible speed and decides to offer her a job - at a price. She has ignited a sporting passion in him and he is determined that she compete in the Regional Championship of Touch Typing with personal training from him. Working so closely together, Echard finds him more and more captivated by Rose, but will his competitive streak form a wedge between them?
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After scoring so perfectly with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and its follow-up, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, it was maybe inevitable that Gondry was going to slip up, and this film is that slip-up. Firstly, it's hard to shake the feeling that the scraps of story that leak out around the visuals are not much more than leftover ideas from Eternal Sunshine, further notes on the fantastic. As Stephane, the neurotic star of his own dream-TV show, Stephane TV, Gael García Bernal uses that slightly blank charisma of his to singular effect. Though Gondry takes awhile to lay his cards down on this character, leaving audiences not entirely sure whether to view Stephane as an innocent dreamer or immature creep, it's hard not to warm to Bernal's enthusiasm -- even he did put it to better use in The King.
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|Sexual tension seeps from the sprockets ofevery frame of film in "Dry Cleaning," a French import abouta 40-something husband and wife on the verge of mutual midlife crises whoare seeking some way to revive and rivet their humdrum lives. |
Their desires start out simply enough -- the wife (Miou-Miou,"The Eighth Day") just wants to take a little vacation -- butwith her workaholic husband pinching pennies, she starts locally by dragginghim someplace exotic they would never otherwise go, a local cabaret featuringcross-dressing, lip-syncing strippers.
But more deeply buried urges find their simple visit tosaid cabaret leading to a bizarre live-in relationship with one of theambiguously bisexual performers that upsets the balance of their marriageand begets melancholy, discontent, restrained jealousy, rage and eventuallytragedy.
The wife begins a boy toy affair with the supremely untalentedperformer (Stanislas Merhar) -- one of those fay, barely legal, heroinchic, Calvin Klein model types who just exudes sex. The husband (CharlesBerling, "Ridicule")tolerates her behavior -- which has inspired much tongue-wagging in theprovincial town where they run a dry cleaners -- in part because he lovesher deeply and is afraid she might chose the boy over him if he confrontedher, and in part because he's harboring (and trying to bury) an attractionto their guest himself.
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