2012, Régis Roinsard
An adorable twist on the traditional Romantic Comedy featuring Romain Duris and Déborah François that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense.
Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François) is destined to live a dreary life in her hometown of Lisieux with her miserable widowed father (Frédéric Pierrot, whom you may recognise from thrilling TV series Les Revenants), that is until she attends a disastrous interview in Normandy to become a secretary, impressing the boss Louis Échard (Romain Duris) with her phenomenal typing skills. Although she makes a terrible secretary, competitive Louis dreams of honing Rose’s talent so that she can become a World Champion Typist, and the two embark on a romantic, unforgettable and adorable journey together.
Set in the late 50s, one would think that Populaire would be rife with sexism, and although Louis starts off by calling Rose mon chou (Pumpkin, or literally ‘my cabbage’) Rose gets back at him with quick, witty remarks that will leave a smile on your face. The chemistry between Rose and Louis is evident right from the start, with Louis seeing more in her than ‘just a pretty face’, the conversations between the characters are flirty, cheeky and heartwarming, with Rose putting Louis in his place more than the other way round.
Moving her into his home in order to train her fiercely with an old typewriter and a stern attitude, we soon see Rose and Louis become closer and closer, with him feeling particularly embarrassed at the presence of Rose in his house, which she takes great delight in (a 1950s insurance salesman desperately trying to find a place to put a bra – God forbid he should ever come across one of those with a lady in the house), and the relationship between them growing from purely platonic to a flirty friendship.
With a dramatic turn of events, Louis fears that he is becoming too close to Rose, and he casts her out of his house for the Christmas period whilst his family visit. Visiting his childhood friend, Marie Taylor (Bérénice Bejo), Rose and Marie crash the Christmas celebrations, with Rose declaring that she is Louis’ fiancée with things continue swimmingly as the couple seem to venture into the next stage of their relationship. After winning a National Typist competition, it seems as if things take a sudden turn for the worse, with Louis realising that he can’t give Rose what she wants, that she’ll be travelling. Of course, it wouldn’t be a French film without Rose declaring her love for Louis in a Parisian street, only to be rejected.
Heartbroken, Rose leaps into the world of Typewriter fame, perhaps half-heartedly, heading to America in order to take part in a Typewriting Contest in which she hopes to become World Champion. Meanwhile, Louis’ life has taken a turn for the worse and both parties realise that deep down, they do indeed miss each other. Rose, swept off her feet by the maker of a typewriter named after her, is charmed by the fame and admiration that she has earned but it’s just not the same without the man who set her on this path to begin with.
During the World Championships in America, Louis arrives to watch his beloved Rose compete against the previous champion, the American Susan Hunter who intimidates Rose over the keys with a cunning put-down. The tension of Rose and Susan’s showdown is unbelievable- you wouldn’t believe that typewriting can leave you in suspense, but you can’t help but admire Rose’s determination, hard-work and effort to get to where she is in the competition and you can’t help but rejoice at her victory over smarmy Susan.
Of course, like most Romantic Comedies, the end is sealed with a movie star kiss. What Populaire has over many other Romantic Comedies is the charming simplicity, the uncomplicated love story, the absence of love triangles and the power lays mainly in the female protagonist’s hands. Although the absence of a complicated love story may appear boring, Populaire charms us with its vintage outfits, characters you just can’t help but like and big dreams of a small town girl. Populaire is a perfect feel-good film which won’t leave you clawing for stronger female lead characters.
killjoy – le rabat-joie
shredder – la broyeuse de papier (in the film, but can also be called la déchiqueteuse)
Do I look nervous?! – J’ai l’air nerveux?!
Ball bearings – les roulements à billes
Typewriter – la machine à écrire