Jean De Florette - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Jean De Florette Reviews

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March 20, 2017
Heartbreakingly bittersweet, a classic piece of French cinema
January 14, 2017
In Jean de Florette Gerard Depardieu plays something of a Clark Griswold character, a father with a bold vision for his family and himself, and driven to the brink of insanity to fulfill it. Claude Berri's film is a fascinating and believable character study.
January 3, 2017
A prestige picture, no doubt, and the images are "painterly" with a masterful use of light. The French countryside may have never looked better. The acting is also superb -- by Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, and Yves Montand -- as you would expect. Auteuil plays a none-too-bright farmer who, under the sneaky guidance of his uncle (Montand), covets the land inherited by Depardieu which has fertile soil and a hidden water source, a spring, which Auteuil and Montand manage to stop up before he arrives. So, Depardieu has a Herculean task ahead of him, to create his envisioned rabbit farm (150 rabbits per month) and sustainable "kitchen garden" with marrow enough to feed that many hares - without water. Or without water independent of the rain that he hopes will fall, but doesn't because of an epic heatwave and drought. Such is the plot and it creates enough suspense and tension to carry the film. However, I felt that we were looking at these characters and their predicaments from the outside and never really from the inside; even the relationship between Auteuil and Depardieu, which grows closer and creates tension that threatens to undermine the Montand/Auteuil plot, never feels particularly "real". But these are minor quibbles if one observes this film as the art object it was meant to be. Engaging but not enthralling - but I say this before seeing "Manon of the Spring", the sequel and second part of the story, which is clearly anticipated and which may resolve the arc of the story more satisfactorily.
September 21, 2016
High quality adaptation, notable for the unusual combination of being both idyllic and nasty. Notable especially for Daniel Auteil's performance.
½ August 7, 2016
A great achievment

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring are more closely related than an original and sequel; they are really parts 1 and 2 of the same film, and in fact were filmed back to back.

Set in Provence around 1920 (most people still use horses, donkeys and mules, but there are a few autos around; telephones exist but are rare, the mayor is very proud to have one), the first film tells of Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu,) a rather intellectual bourgeois civil servant from the city who, having inherited a farm in Provence, moves his wife Aimee ( Élisabeth Depardieu, Gerard Depardieu 's real life wife at the time) and ten year old daughter Manon there, with the intention of applying scientific principles to raise vegetables and rabbits. But in the arid climate of Provence, everything depends on water: there is a plentiful spring on the property but Jean doesn't know it because his neighbors, local worthy Cesar "Le Papet" ("Gramps") Soubeyran (Yves Montand) and his rather dim nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) have blocked it up, hoping that the lack of water will cause the farm to fail, so they can buy it cheap. This tactic has tragic consequences for Jean's family. The second film recounts how ten years later Manon, now a beautiful young woman, finds both the spring and a way of revenge for what was done to her family. In the end, everyone gets more or less their just desserts.

The films have an interesting history. French writer and director Marcel Pagnol, whose play Marius was latter turned into the French film trilogy Marius/César/Fanny, which was itself remade into the 1962 Hollywood film Fanny with Leslie Caron and other big stars, made a film in 1953, Manon des Sources, telling the second part of the story; his final cut of over four hours was so drastically cut by the distributor that Pagnol disowned it, and later redid the same story as a novel, adding a prequel novel, Jean de Florette; these two books together became the basis for these films.

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring were a huge success both commercially and critically, and it's easy to see why. The Provencal settings are meticulously detailed and the landscape photography luscious. The acting is all around excellent: Gerard Depardieu and Yves Montand especially are as good as they've ever been.

These films are not perfect works of art: they are not free of sentimentality, some viewers may occasionally be confused about exactly who some of the minor characters are, and the surprise ending ties together all the loose ends so neatly that it may see rather artificial. But these are minor flaws. All in all, this is a production that I think everyone will like: it's one of those rare films that leave you with memories that seem to be of people and places you've experienced rather than seen on a screen.

Both films are available from MGM as a set of excellent quality on standard and Blu-Ray DVD.
½ January 15, 2016
This film and its other 'half' (Manon of the Spring) have great actors with wonderful performances. The story of love, family, business, family feuds seems to encompass all of live. And done in such a good way. The time it is set and the sets and costumes to me were really great. Loved both films.
½ July 14, 2015
Brilliant French film the U.S. The 1st part of 2 films. I saw it many years ago but it left a great impact. The blu-Ray looks stunning, a amazing film to see in HD as it takes place in the French country side. Gerard Depardieu is great in it, and Yves Montand and Daniel Autiel are also excellent. A must for Foreign cinema lovers!
May 16, 2015
Favorite movie. Shows the greed and evil in humans and has lots of cute goats.
May 16, 2015
The film is beautifully shot and the tragedy builds slowly to a shattering end. No film has ever affected me to the extent this film has. It is a testament to the callousness of humanity, brilliantly acted.
January 22, 2015
Soul crushing French tragedy!
½ September 22, 2014
Avarice, despite seemingly natural, can blindfold one's eyes and lead to tragic consequences. Although the misfortune of the honest man is somehow a matter of luck, viewers should still be very resentful towards the repulsive Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil anyway. Daniel Auteuil, however, exposes a high versatility and gives an unforgettable performance as the repugnant, yet slightly childlike villain. Beautifully shot in the mountainous areas of Provence with a great score featuring Giuseppe Verdi's opera, Jean de Florette ends halfway in grief and indignation which we observe no justice.
February 24, 2014
Ok, la mise en scene est ringarde, mais les themes de Pagnol sont immuables.
½ February 23, 2014
Even the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. And "Jean de Florette" is a beautiful story that does not escape this fate. The characters are complex, and family relations may leave you slightly confused as they become entangled in their emotions.
½ February 23, 2014
Even the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. And "Jean de Florette" is a beautiful story that does not escape this fate. The characters are complex, and family relations may leave you slightly confused as they become entangled in their emotions.
January 25, 2014
Possibly my favorite movie, its amazing, it makes you want to change your life for the better.
January 10, 2014
The most beautiful film ever! It makes you think over and over about it...
½ January 3, 2014
Looking a little dated but still worth watching
November 26, 2013
A slow-paced, beautiful film with epic sweep, Jean de Florette breaks down man's most inherent attribute: greed, and centers it around what he needs most: water. This simple subtlety provides insight into the true intentions of humans and leaves room for some terrific performances.
½ November 11, 2013
A beautiful and engaging film with an excellent cast and wonderful script. Superlatives, superlatives, superlatives !
October 30, 2013
It's strange how a film with such lush beauty can also feature the unbearable ugliness society can hold. "Jean de Florette" is at once beautiful, poetic, maddening, and whimsical; I've never seen a film quite like it. There are few times where I truly have been involved with the lives of characters in a film, and "Jean de Florette" is a great example of one. How can it be so cruel, but also so human?
Taking place on the photogenic French countryside, the film follows the sickening plight of two struggling farmers, Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) and his uncle Cesar (Yves Montand); they plan to drive out an incoming family, who plan to be farmers, out of their land so they can sell the property for quick profit. What's their master plan? To plug the spring that provides constant nutrition for the garden the family plans to live off of. How do they get ownership of that spring? By killing the original owner.
The twosome try every trick in the book to cause their new neighbors to leave, but Jean (Gerard Depardieu), the husband and father, won't budge, despite the fact that water is short and the weather is unbelievably dry. For months, the struggle is huge - but when (spoiler alert) Jean tragically meets his demise, and the uncle/nephew pairing of farmers come out successfully, we're left sick to our stomachs.
If there wasn't the promise of a follow-up to "Jean de Florette" in which Jean's daughter Manon (Ernestine Mazurowna) grows up (Emmanuelle Béart) and gets revenge (in the follow-up, "Manon des Sources), I swear I could have a breakdown. "Jean de Florette" is often times so heart wrenching that it's almost impossible to stand.
It starts off with a bit of sweetness; Ugolin is seen as a kind, simple man that simply wants to grow flowers for a living, and Cesar seems to be his wise, caring father-figure. But as the film goes on, their despicable acts of selfishness grow to a point where we can't help but despise them. Surely, their cruelty isn't unneeded - after all, everyone in the area in which the characters live struggle just to get by.
But seeing that the family they target, the Cadoret's, are so harmless and warm-hearted, it's somewhat hard to emphasize with them. Claude Berri, who is incredible when it comes to balancing style and hard drama, flawlessly balances the struggle each and every character has, and, despite the hatred we have for Ugolin and Cesar, we can slimly understand why they're doing what they're doing.
Ugolin and Cesar are played by Daniel Auteuil and Yves Montand, two fantastic actors from different generations, Auteuil being the up-and-coming dynamo and Montand being a respected film veteran. Their characters are difficult to truly understand, but they flesh them out in a way that makes them complex instead of being one-dimensionally diabolical. Depardieu, who gives one of his best performances, his tragic as Jean, who at first is so kind and hopeful, but by the end is turned into a depressed failure that can barely get by.
"Jean de Florette" is simply spectacular, and a feel-bad movie has never felt so good - I simply cannot wait to see how it all pans out in "Manon des Sources".
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