Newbie French writer/director Régis Roinsard plays homage to the great Hollywood 1950’s romantic comedies with this delightful sugary fluffy movie. A perfect period piece that says that not only can fairy tales come true (eventually) but they look and sound so much better in fabulous retro sets, stunning costumes, and a rip roaring sentimentalised score.
It’s 1958 in Paris where it seems it is every working girls dream is to get a very modern job i.e. become a Secretary. Even in a boring Insurance Company Office, mind you it helps that Louis the Boss is a handsome young (ish) blade. Rose, (who is meant to be the ugly duckling of the piece, but is played by beautiful Deborah Francis) has left her tiny village to make it in the big city. There are a lot of young gals after the position and Rose’s chances of getting hired look very slim. As pretty as she is however, its not her looks that attract Louis’s attention, but the fact that she shows she is a wiz on the keyboard. The highly competitive Louis, who was an athlete before the War, strikes a deal with an eager Rose that if she enters a National Typing Championship then the job is hers.
Louis takes on the task of training Rose quite earnestly and is aided and abetted by his best friend Bob, an American (with an atrocious French accent) who landed in Normandy with the US Forces and never left. He ended up marrying Marie, who it turns out was Louis’s ex girlfriend who gave up waiting for him to propose. It is Marie who is the first one to realise that Louis’s new ‘hobby’ will take on a seriousness that he may never notice unless she gives him a few nudges.
Rose wins a few of the local competitions and its clear to everyone …..except Louis of course …. that the only reason she puts up with the hard slog of hours of training, is because she is in love with him. It’s not until she wins the National Championship and qualifies for a chance at becoming the World Champion that she is so annoyed with Louis’s indifference that she ditches him and signs up with Japy, the manufacturers of the new pink ‘populaire’ typewriter.
Who would ever thought that watching a whole hall
full of girls competing in a typing competition could be so much fun, but director evidently Roinsard had really wanted to make a sports movie so he has photographed and edited it so aggressively that it is very entertaining. Even though he may never have initially wanted to make a romantic comedy, he has done a first class job, and its a real tribute to the likes of Vincente Minelli and the other masters of the genre way back then.
Louis is played by the sublime actor Roman Duris … and why he is probably not an obvious choice for such a matinee idol role, he is the perfect one as he brings a edgy quality to the part, and he is also so wonderfully droll. I have already given a nod to Deborah Francis who as Rose is a wonderful foil to the self-centred Louis, and then there is Marie his ex, who was played by the delightful Bérénice Bejo(Oscar nominated for ‘The Artist’).
It’s all very definitely lightweight and a tad mushy, but it is also a sheer joy. If you like your romance with a distinctly old-fashioned feel to it, and naturally with a happy ending, then you’ll really love this one. It’s in Theaters now.