Populaire Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2014
There's so much to love about this French romantic comedy that centers on the world of speed tying in the late fifties. As a period piece, this film was produced convincingly. The costumes are authentic, the sets are bright and brilliant, and the attitudes are pure Parisian metropolitan. The subject matter of speed typing was engrossing and was handled splendidly, rising in tension from one scene to the next. The training sessions were interesting, the inner personal relationships were also, and the love story, though mishandled at times, was an adorable adage to the rest of the plot. The competition was so fierce and unbridled that it almost made me uncomfortable, and for some reason the stakes were quite high, even though our main character Rose (Francois) didn't even initially want to compete. This film fuses all the best aspects of the fifties aesthetic with the vintage idyllic themes of a classic love story. It feels quite authentic, and it's beautiful to boot, making it a traditional and yet contemporary film.
themoviewaffler.com
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2013
Rose (Francois) is an awkward but pretty girl living with her widowed father in a small Northern French town in 1958. When she applies for a position as secretary to handsome local insurance man Louis (Duris), her impressive typing speed gets her the job. Once in the position, Louis discovers Rose is a disaster, thanks to her clumsiness. Her one skill, that of typing at an incredibly rapid pace, intrigues Louis however, who insists she enter a local speed-typing competition. When she succeeds at this, Louis devises a rigorous training schedule for Rose, with the aim of entering the national championships.

The idea of taking an obscure sporting or competitive event as the backdrop for a comedy has been milked to death in recent comedies. We've seen figure-skating in 'Blades of Glory', ping-pong in 'Balls of Fury', and dodgeball in, well, 'Dodgeball'. None of those movies worked for one very simple reason; they revolved around one joke and died stretching it out to feature length. With this knowledge, I expected little from Roinsard's debut feature. Thankfully, he's used the concept of speed-typing as no more than a "MacGuffin". It's simply the backdrop to what is, essentially, a homage to the technicolor world of fifties Hollywood.

France never had this sort of cinema back then and there's a sense that Roinsard is trying to rectify this. The film is awash with references to that golden age of entertainment, from the primary colors of MGM musicals to a Saul Bass influenced credit sequence. There's even a 'Vertigo' homage which, unlike last year's 'The Artist', pays respect in the correct manner. Duris and Francois are playing the sort of roles Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have taken over half a century ago. Due to its fifties setting, accusations of male chauvinism may be leveled but, thankfully, Roinsard makes no concessions to modern sensibilities, (unlike Spielberg's 'Lincoln'). His film bears no resemblance to reality, instead it's set in the world of the cinema. In real-life, Normandy is a drab, grey region, lacking the brightness and color on display here. This is what movies of this nature do, they transport you from the humdrum of reality into a world where something as simple as a room of frantically typing secretaries can explode with the energy of a Busby Berkeley dance number. In French, the word "entertainment" literally translates as "diversion" and, as diversions go, 'Populaire' is one this year's best.
C'est le divertissement!
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2013
A delightful and sweet film which oozes aroma of cinema how it used to be in the 50s and 60s: innocent and breezy bringing a sense of nostalgia to those who are 40+. It could have been a real gem if Romain Duris did not have the charm of a plasterboard.
October 17, 2013
I don't usually like romantic comedies but this is more of a throwback to the more tolerable ones from 50+ ago so I was able to get into it. Its fun, lighthearted, doesn't take itself seriously at all, and even though its totally predictable its still enjoyable seeing it unfold.
½ January 19, 2015
One of my Ultimate Favorite French Films. Funny. Smart. Supremely entertaining
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2014
There's so much to love about this French romantic comedy that centers on the world of speed tying in the late fifties. As a period piece, this film was produced convincingly. The costumes are authentic, the sets are bright and brilliant, and the attitudes are pure Parisian metropolitan. The subject matter of speed typing was engrossing and was handled splendidly, rising in tension from one scene to the next. The training sessions were interesting, the inner personal relationships were also, and the love story, though mishandled at times, was an adorable adage to the rest of the plot. The competition was so fierce and unbridled that it almost made me uncomfortable, and for some reason the stakes were quite high, even though our main character Rose (Francois) didn't even initially want to compete. This film fuses all the best aspects of the fifties aesthetic with the vintage idyllic themes of a classic love story. It feels quite authentic, and it's beautiful to boot, making it a traditional and yet contemporary film.
½ July 26, 2014
A solid sweet comedy!! The film keeps going despite a predictable script/outcome & a girl from Bas Normadie takes the world championship! Great music accompaniment (unexpected!! Tango/Cha cha in France?!) Best line: "America for business, France for love!!"
May 15, 2014
Ridiculously cute. It captures the era both in culture and film making. The actors are charismatic. Actually, I'm going with ridiculously charismatic.
½ April 9, 2014
visually cute at times; ultimately lacking in substance, and a little too self conscious
½ February 26, 2014
A well-presented, tidy little farce that entertains.
½ February 23, 2014
Expected, but beautifully executed and charming in every details...
½ January 14, 2014
A simple yet charming film, in a very French way. Everything is simple, from the 1950s setting to the plot and the characters, and of course no twist-and-turn whatsoever. Still, the rapid typing "sport" (!) can bring joy to audience through the light-hearted and somehow innocent acting by Duris and François. The costume design is also perfect for this film with simple but very elegant designs that can make any pretentious Hollywood film look miserable. A joy to watch.
December 8, 2013
A one line, dry plot, presented with strong visuals and backed by beautiful performance.
½ November 27, 2013
Great if you're a fan of the campy 50's look. Other than that generic but cute.
November 16, 2013
This was sublime! What a masterpiece!
November 5, 2013
Loved every second of it. Charming and beautiful to watch!
September 4, 2013
POPULAIRE is a delightful movie, and Déborah François may have the most expressive face in French cinema.The plot is predictable, but so what? Even if you know the route, you can enjoy the ride--especially when the trip includes clever visuals and jokes like the bit at the end of the movie that I ...read morewon't reveal here.Normally I'd give this movie a solid four stars, but as a person who used to type 100+ words a minute on mechanical typewriters, I'm awarding it a fifth star for paying homage to speed typists. (Ah, for the days when the girls would swoon at the sight of a male speed typist in an Underwood t-shirt.)
November 4, 2013
A fun movie and a throwback to the 50's.
½ October 22, 2013
Rom Com with an Old World Charm...
October 5, 2013
"Populaire" is a quirky, charming story that will surprisingly make you care about who is the fastest typist in the world. We're not talking typing on a keyboard here though, this is about typewriter typing because this is not only a French film, it's a French period piece set in the 1950s. It's set when most women's greatest aspirations were to be stewardesses or the secretary of a hot business man. If you can just stay with me on this, I'll give you a quick summary of what you can expect, followed by why the film works so well. The film follows Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François), a woman who's never really been good at much in her life but dreams of becoming a secretary. Things don't exactly go well for her at first. She doesn't even wear glasses or her hair pinned up! She impresses her potential employer Louis Échard (Romain Duris) when she proves herself to be a prolific typist, a fact that makes him set aside how clumsy and disorganized she is. Échard decides to employ her, more so that he can train himself a champion than for her lackluster secretary skills. At first, things seem to be going great. They enter the competition, ready to blow everyone away. A major oversight on both their parts is that she types like someone who's never had to render a text quickly, by poking at the letters one by one with her index fingers. After a big defeat, Échard is nonetheless determined to make her into a star athlete. Complicating things is the fact that both of them are very attracted to each other but must keep their emotions distant for the sake of the office and the competition. As they train and get closer to their goal, their relationship blossoms. Rose gains quite the reputation but Échard's insecurities risk derailing the whole thing.

The biggest surprise with the film is the actual competitions between Rose and her combatants. I know this might sound outlandish but hear me out. When you're typing on a keyboard, that's quite boring and we've seen it spiced up in some techno-thrillers with zippy computer simulations but it never really works. Imagine however, typing on a keyboard where there is no way to erase mistakes. You're racing against the clock, trying to reach speeds of 500 characters per minute. On top of that, you have to manually load and unload the paper you're typing onto, manually switch the machine to type on a new line and there's that constant fear that the keys are going to get stuck. Now that is something far removed from the simple clicking of a couple of keys as words appear on your monitor; this is the furious clicking and clanking as these then-revolutionary machine stamp teeny letters onto a ribbon so hard that it then imprints itself onto the paper. There's real tension in the competitions because you see this whole room full of women, furiously typing and trying to get through their text without making a single mistake (each of which costs you a whopping 100 characters on your score). Everyone is in the same league, so their paces are pretty much the same. All of a sudden though, you'll start to see the lineup forming as the contestants start to reach the end of the first line. There's that "ding" that sounds as she nears the end of the sheet of paper and she lifts up her left hand, gives the machine a smack and it's off to the next line. Everyone else soon follows but by glance you can start to see that some people are falling behind and when they finally reach the end of the page, it's a whole other story as the ladies furious rip the paper out from the machine and scramble to stick the next one in. There are multiple scenes like this and all of them actually feature our leading lady Déborah doing her own typing. Now that is exciting.

Away from the machines, there's a very genuine romantic story developing between Rose and her boss Échard. The actors have great chemistry and some pretty good comedic timing too. You really start to care about the competition (even before the gripping sequences) because you want these two succeed. There's also something really relatable about Rose's humble beginning because we've all been there, struggling to learn how to type properly when it would be so much easier to just look down at the keyboard and poke at the letters instead of having to come up with all of these tricks to memorize which fingers go where and where all the keys are. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Échard and Rose colour-code her fingers and the keys on her machine so that she can easily remember which fingers go where. That's really clever. I can't speak for the English dub or subtitles that will come when the movie hits North American theatres but the French audio was snappy and funny while keeping the mood light. There's some good slapstick, just the right dose that brings some extra laughs in there too. The mood stays light, the sparks fly and there are some genuinely sexy moments too. The main characters are likable and the side characters enrich the story (Bérénice Bejo is a particular standout as an ex of Échard, a friend and tutor to Rose and a matchmaker to both).

I'm urging you to go see a movie that sounds like it would be ridiculous but really charmed me. This is no blockbuster and it isn't going to be a sweeping romance either but not all movies need to be big. It's very enjoyable and will leave you feeling light and cheerful; it'll make your day. (Theatrical version on the big screen, September 21, 2013)
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