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.




Véronique - France with Véro
Véronique of France with Véro

Véronique of France with Véro

Vero shares her homeland weekly on social media with virtual tours, photo essays, live events and other publications at France with Vero. Learn more.

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