Jean De Florette - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Jean De Florette Reviews

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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".
October 29, 2013
A classic and my favorite French film. The film is 4 hours, split into separate movies due to it's length. "Jean De Florette" is the "prequel" to the equally good "Manon of the Spring". Best to watch both together. Highly recommended
½ September 29, 2013
This movie is the first of a two part adaptation of a 1960s novel. It is set in France after WWI. The story unfolds over a few decades. It is a tale of conspiracy, greed, murder, love lost, revenge, and probably some others. The story held my interest.

Three of the lead actors are prominent in French film. All of them are very good. One is Le Papet (Yves Montand). He is the aging head of a long standing local village family. He is a man of few scruples. The other is his nephew, Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil). He has perhaps a bit more moral substance; but, is also a mental lite-weight. He is easily manipulated by his uncle. The good guy is Jean (Gerard Depardieu). Unfortunately, he is too trusting of his new neighbors/friends. The local villagers, who know some of what is going on, refuse to help him.

The bad-guy duo go about trying to acquire the land and water inherited by Jean. They use methods by turns, forthright and under-handed. The pair are revealed to be morally bereft. The story unfolds and certain truths are exposed.

This film and its sequel, MANON OF THE SPRING, are worth a look.
July 21, 2013
This is true cinema. I adored this movie, and would love to own it. Even though it was in French, I was able to follow it and enjoy it thoroughly. One of my favorites of all time.
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2013
A beautiful film in every way. Well, almost every way -- Gerard Depardieu is not handsome even when caught on film when he was young and thin. Despite his aesthetic challenges, the story is marvelous and beautifully acted.
½ May 15, 2013
depressing in a great way
April 24, 2013
One of my Dad's favourite films. I found it a bit of a bore. I preferred the sequel, 'Manon of the Spring'.
March 5, 2013
Must be watched with it companion piece Manon of the Spring. Epic masterpiece!
February 14, 2013
A brilliant movie and my new favorite foreign film!
½ February 10, 2013
Compelling and beautiful.
½ January 26, 2013
An outstanding film that broke my expectations by a mile! Great acting and plot
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2012
It could have been conceived as a four-hour epic and it still would not lose its magic. Berri's wonderful and visually stunning adaptation could also be interpreted as a reflection of the Turkish masterpiece Susuz Yaz (1964), and how that precious resource called "water" still awakens the greed even in the most uncivilized human beings. Terrific score by Jean-Claude Petit and magnificent landscapes, with a surprisingly decent Depardieu and the always immortal Yves Montand.

December 9, 2012
The melodic drama, storytelling approach and characters were as beautiful as a Poem or a Song!
December 7, 2012
Want to see at some point in the future! A treat !
September 14, 2012
Grandioses Auteuil et Depardieu (version originale seulement!)
August 27, 2012
Superb tale of deception and revenge. Must be seen with its successor Manon of the Spring. Together, these are a profoundly moving experience.
August 20, 2012
"Ugly exteriors often hide the purest souls"
July 26, 2012
I saw this movie when I was 6 and its still one of my favorites
July 4, 2012
The characters are people of flesh and blood and the scenery looks amazing.
½ June 29, 2012
Very impressive and heartfelt film. A window to another world.
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