Saturday, 7 December 2013



I have to confess I am not massively up on French cinema. Not through a phobia of subtitles, of course: in fact I'm more than happy to watch films from France, Spain, Mexico, or Japan. It's mainly down to that age old problem of finding these films on a wide enough release. Most films that aren't in English (or more specifically, American) barely get any kind of national distribution, and for those of us whose cinematic interests stretch a little further than the latest special effects eyegasm, it can sometimes be difficult and/or expensive to seek them out. Happily, a few oddities do slip through the cracks from time to time.

Populaire is a strange but surprisingly enjoyable piece of retro French fluff in which emotionally constipated insurance agent Louis (Romain Duris) attempts to turn his clumsy new secretary Rose (Deborah Francois) into the speed typing champion of the world. Deep down, of course, he is falling in love with her but he cannot bring himself to say anything, while she is looking for something more in a man than his many ingenious techniques to improve her typing speeds. Can they sort out their emotional complications as she progresses through the local, regional, national and ultimately the world championships?

The film really is nothing but a light, empty meringue: it's a perfectly entertaining puff of romantic whimsy with a lovely feel for its 1959 setting but absolutely nothing in the way of substance. Which does not matter in the slightest. Okay, maybe it goes on a bit at 110 minutes, and it's making a sport out of something I've done professionally for years (data entry) but in the main it's a perfectly likeable, entertaining and pleasantly amusing little film. And what can possibly be wrong with that? Nothing Earth-shattering, but rather sweet and worth tracking down.



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