Critic Consensus: The cheerfully frothy Populaire may lack substance, but its visual appeal -- and director Roinsard's confident evocation of 1950s filmmaking tropes -- help carry the day.
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as Louis Echard
as Rose Pamphyle
as Marie Taylor
as Bob Taylor
as Annie Leprince Ringu...
as Gilbert Japy
as Madeleine Echard
as Jean Pamphyle
as André Japy
as Mrs. Shorofsky
as Georges Echard
as Lucien Echard
as Jacqueline Echard
as Léonard Echard
as Evelyne Echard
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Critic Reviews for Populaire
It's neatly formatted, but if there's a message in the margins of this manuscript, "Populaire" doesn't spell it out.
As romantic comedy it's uneven, but as an ode to something long gone, "Populaire" hits the right notes.
Even when there's tragedy around the turn, it doesn't matter. Populaire plays like a musical - you expect anyone, at any time, to break into song.
[Populaire] does run through the expected paces with admirable style, with a glossy, Technicolor production design that sometimes makes it seem it might have been made in the '50s, not just set there.
Roinsard, who wrote his feature debut with Daniel Presley and Romain Compingt, is unabashedly in love with cheesy, cornball sentiment, which he dusts off and polishes to a fair-thee-well.
Audience Reviews for Populaire
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.
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!
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.
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