French Girl returns to the 1960’s with “Populaire” (Seattle International Film Festival, part II)

Bonjour les amis,
French Girl in Seattle here, reporting from the Seattle International Film Festival.
In Populaire, a debut feature from writer-director Regis Roinsard, Mad Men meets les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,) meets My Fair Lady.

Set in 1958 France, the romantic comedy tells the rags-to-riches story of 21-year old Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François), a small town girl who runs away from the quiet life her widowed father envisions for her (a marriage to the local mechanic and the life of a housewife,) opting instead for an exciting career as a secretary! 

Rose Pamphyle, secretary


She moves to the nearest town and applies for a secretary position with dashing local insurance man Louis Echard (played by Romain Duris, France’s edgy leading man.) Louis soon realizes Rose‘s secretarial skills are less adequate, but he finds out she can type at lightning speed. He becomes Rose’s Pygmalion and trains her to join the regional speed typing competition.

Rose and Louis at work

The plot is predictable (a common occurrence with romantic comedies,) but we take a guilty pleasure in following Rose‘s transformation into a speed typing champion and an elegant, self-assured, independent young woman, heralding the changing face of gender relationships in the 1960s. 


Visually, the movie, a delicious blend of charm and kitsch, is gorgeous: One is captivated by the soft and sugary colors; the vintage clothing on display during the speed typing competition. It is all so… elegant. Romain Duris, forsaking his trademark two-day stubble, channels Cary Grant and classic American romantic comedies. 


Lead actors and supporting cast (an excellent Bérénice Bejo of The Artist fame,) keep it all fresh and lively. Conversations sparkle like a glass of Champagne!

I do not want to include any spoilers, but this feel good movie will take you all the way to the New-York based worldwide speed typing competition, for a satisfying and uplifting finale.

The movie is in French with English subtitles, but characters occasionally skip from French to English. It seems Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, who is not afraid of a challenge and successfully produced the Artist in 2011, is betting on Populaire‘s international career. And he may very well be right.

A bientôt.
Regis Roinsard, 2012
Limited release date: May 17, 2013
Populaire movie Trailer:


Are you in Seattle?
Seattle International Film Festival
Some of the French-language movies playing this week:

  • Camion, Canada, (May 29 and May 30.) Details here.

Get a free ticket to the 6:30pm showing here.

  • Thérèse, France, a Claude Miller film with Audrey Tautou. (May 28 and May 30.) Details here.
  • Haute Cuisine, France, (May 31 and June 1.) Read my review here.

Book online or call 206.324.9996 and use Coupon Code FRENCH2013 for a $2 discount.



Enhanced by Zemanta

Dear readers:

If you enjoy exploring France and French culture like a native, consider signing up for la Mailing List to receive exclusive travel stories first via email, or join me daily on Facebook and Instagram.

What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)


  • Veronique, this sounds like a winner, even if predictable. Will look forward to viewing this one! I certainly remember the 60s. 😉

  • With “Haute cuisine” and “populaire”, it will be fun to finally watch good french movies. Maybe there will be more of them. I cannot wait. I might even have to go eat some french food afterwards.

  • Ah, the 60’s, I remember them well and learning to type when I was 16. Looks like a delightful, fun and nostalgic movie and set in Paris, how can you go wrong? Your review is excellent, you have a new career!

    • Bonjour Cherie. I, too, learned to type a long time ago (I used to hate those big, clunky keys.) Like everything else I did in life, it came in handy later when I started using computers… And thank you for the vote of confidence. This has been a fun experience so far. 🙂

  • I may not like sweets after dinner, but I’m all for a bit of light and fluffy confection at the cinema. As opposed to a fattening dessert, I always feel lighter and fluffier when I leave the theater. There’s nothing like an old-fashioned (even when new) romantic romp in a beautiful setting to renew one’s love affair with life.

    P.S.: I miss the 60s. They were so much fun.

    You clearly have a gift for reviewing movies. Brilliant, ma chère.

    Gros bisous, M-T

    • Light and fluffy this one is, M-T. No deep message there. Très reposant et amusant. Don’t miss it!

      PS: I was born in the 60s so don’t remember them that well, but my best years were in the 70s… To each his own. 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words. Movie reviewing is an interesting exercise. You want to say a lot, especially if you loved the movie, but you can’t reveal details in the plot… Difficile…


    • Ah, yes, that’s the trick. Pas évident. Leaves you on the horns of a dilemma, n’est-ce pas? But, ceci dit, you acquit yourself beautifully.

  • I will check to see the UK release date Veronique – it looks right up my street (or should that be boulevard?)
    Thanks for the heads up.

  • Joker! (a cause de R.D…)
    Par contre , je ne sais pourquoi mais ta page m’arrive en français traduite par google , et le texte est à mourir de rire (ou pas..)
    Pluie torrentielle hier soir, ce matin plein soleil… Le climat de ton sejour se jouera à quitte ou double, previsions impossibles!
    Trop super, ton nouveau collier , hein?! :o)
    Gros bisous!

    • Hello Marie. Oui, le traducteur Google est une vraie catastrophe. Ma mère l’a essayé, la pauvre et a du abandonner…

      J’ai pensé à toi en écrivant ma modeste critique de ce film. Ton acteur préféré: Romain Duris. 🙂

      Mon nouveau collier est magnifique. Le clou de ma collection. Mon mari n’était pas trop dans les bijoux (au moins pour moi 🙂 alors je fais ce que je peux pour compenser…

      Pour la météo, pas de problème, je prends Nice même avec la pluie. Ce sera quand même mieux que ma cambrousse de Seattle…


  • This one sounds like a lot of fun Veronique and I’m a big fan of Romain Duris. I was very fast when I was a secretary but couldn’t have coped with the pressure haha! Will have to watch out for this one, I enjoyed the trailer..merci beaucoup Madam Critic 🙂

  • A great review/ report Veronique. I’m a huge fan of Romain Duris and this movie sounds as if it won’t disappoint. It reminds me of the old mid-day movies I used to occasionally watch during the my school holidays as a treat. … Gigi, My Fair Lady, Doris Day…………..Thank you

    • Merci beaucoup Elizabeth. You are right: I remember thinking about the old Doris Day movies when I watched the movie… Don’t miss it. You will spend a very pleasant moment with our friend Romain Duris, who plays his part with a permanent scowl – and a twinkle in his eye! 🙂

  • I HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE!! And yes, that statement required all caps because I’m freaking out by your review and the trailer. I want to jump inside the movie and live there. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.