Spring, 1958. 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle (Deborah Francois) is living in a sleepy French village with her widower father. Engaged to the son of the local mechanic, it seems her destiny is to spend the rest of her days as a bored rural housewife. But Rose wants more from life. Travelling to Normandy, she meets Louis Echard (Romain Duris), the dashing boss of an insurance agency who's hiring a secretary. The interview is a disaster, but Rose reveals a special gift - she can type at an extraordinary speed! Unwittingly, she awakes the dormant sports fan in Louis, who enters her into a national speed typing competition. As he coaches her, they both discover that the road to success can take some romantic turns...
Most mainstream French movies are about love, no wonder considering France is considered the birthplace of romance and all that good stuff but most of the time those films always seem to blend together and Populaire feels oddly familiar, especially to anyone who has seen Amelie or Romantics Anonymous, two delightfully funny films that Populaire borrows most of its story from.
Set in 1959 ,Populaire tells the story of Rose (Deborah Francois), a young woman from a small French village chomping at the bit to experience everything the new modern world has to offer. She moves to the city to become Louis’ (Romain Duris) secretary but he only seems interested in her typing and the fame he could achieve if he entered her into competitions, that is until he sees her potential.
While feeling like a rehash at times, Populaire is quintessentially French and for that reason it is a charming, heartwarming and captivating picture that is a loving tribute to the unbreakable spirit of a people who are still recovering from the 2nd world war a decade later. The film uses the war to add context and character to Louis, a member of the resistance who doesn’t fear conflict but everything else, especially genuine feelings.
This is made clear by a standout performance by Berenice Bejo (The Artist) as Louis’ long time friend and old flame Marie, a woman who knows exactly what kind of man Louis is and can cut to the core of him in seconds. The film is filled with rich characters like Marie, Rose and Louis and the film manages to handle their many demons in a light hearted way. So while it may descend into the realms of Disney in its conclusion it is a heartfelt drama about a man accepting his flaws and a woman discovering she might not be as perfect as she thinks she is