|DÉBORAH FRANÇOIS stars in POPULAIRE|
Photo: Jair Sfez ©2013 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved
2013, 111 minutes
Rated R for a scene of sexuality
Review by Joshua Handler
Régis Roinsard's Populaire is a delightful little film that is a wonderful antidote to all of the depressing films that have been released over the past few months and that will be releasing around awards season. Populaire tells the story of an insurance agency boss, Louis (Romain Duris), who hires a young woman, Rose (Déborah François), to be his secretary. Rose turns out to be a terrible secretary, but a wickedly fast typist, prompting Louis to want to train her to be a champion typist.
What Populaire lacks in substance and structural originality, it makes up for in charm. Duris and François have strong chemistry and exude charm. Each gives a genuine performance, but it is François who stands out. She plays Rose with a sweet innocence and determination that makes her easy to root for. She and Duris really aren't given the most original or deeply-developed characters, but François and Duris do excellent jobs. The lovely Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) has a supporting role and her presence brightens the screen every time she that is on. She has a magnetic screen presence and a knockout smile, something that helped her greatly in her Oscar-nominated turn in The Artist.
Guillaume Schiffman's (Oscar-nominee for The Artist) cinematography is gorgeous and evocative of 1950s films. The typing competition sequences are an excellent showcase for Schiffman's talents, as the fluid and sometimes furious camera movements help build tension and excitement masterfully.
Robin Coubert and Emmanuel D'Orlando's score is enchanting and gives the film a fairy tale feel. It works marvelously with Sylvie Olivé's exquisite production design. The production design uses the muted, yet vibrant colors popular in the 1950s to great effect. Everything looks slightly exaggerated to give it that fairy tale feel.
Finally, what makes Populaire so likable is its genuineness. While Populaire is a fairly generic film story-wise, it always tries to please, and never tries to manipulate. It is on these noble intentions that Roinsard and crew succeed. Populaire never tries to be more than it is, which makes it very pleasurable to watch.
Overall, Populaire is a sweet little film that should please just about all but the hardest-hearted. It is a perfect movie for couples or those simply looking for a whimsical little comedy with a big heart. I needed a light movie after all of the heavy dramas and trashy films that I've seen recently and Populaire completely did the trick.