PLOT: Set in the 1950s, Populaire is a French film about young Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François) who works at her widowed father's small town shop where she dreams of moving to the big city. While her stern father wants his daughter to marry the son of a local mechanic, Rose has set her sites higher and hones her typing skills on a Triumph typewriter that's usually on display in the shop's window. After seeing an ad in the paper for a secretary, she decides to leave, at her father's dismay. The job is at an insurance company in Normandy where she was hired from an office full of young female hopefuls.
Rose soon realizes she has her hands filled with her snarky, chain smoking boss Louis Echard (Romain Duris), who decides to hire her even though she's not the best secretary, but because she is a quick typist. Louis soon convinces Rose (at threat of losing her job) to participate in a local typing contest in hopes of making it to the world championships. He then takes on the arduous task of teaching the two-finger typist to use all 10 fingers. But, she eventually teaches him a thing or two about love and typing.
ENGAGEMENT: Although I'm usually not a fan of films with subtitles, I enjoyed the plot so much that reading and watching wasn't a factor and added to the charm of the movie. Belgium-born actress Déborah François is absolutely darling in the leading role and has an air of an Old Hollywood actress such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, who are rumored to be two of her favorites. Audrey actually has a cameo in the film via a picture on the bedroom wall of Rose's room and serves as her inspiration. It's this type of sentiment that makes this film familiar. It doesn't feel like you're watching a foreign film. It's an inspirational, feel good, love story – all the ingredients of a good chick flick.
STYLE: What's there not to love about the aesthetic in this film. It's the 50s, an era of brightly colored frocks (full skirts reigned supreme), coiffed updos, fashion accessories, and the bikini – but there were none in this film. Here the ladies were styled prim and proper in looks appropriate for a modern career women of the day.
This movie should be 75% on you radar:
The Chic Spy
Release: Friday, September 13th
(Images courtesy of The Weinstein Company)