It's impossible not to be charmed by this cheeky French comedy, even if it's utterly predictable and never remotely breaks its gorgeously designed surfaces. But it's packed with moments of riotous comedy and surprising drama that keep us on our toes, almost making us forget that we're watching a foreign movie about a typing competition. It also has a secret weapon in Romain Duris, an unconventional romantic lead who's irresistibly appealing.
The period is the late 1950s, when life for a young woman in a tiny village didn't offer many options. After years working for her shop-owner father (Pierrot), Rose (Francois) finally breaks free, applying for a secretarial job in a nearby town. Despite having no experience, insurance broker Louis (Duris) sees a spark in her and gives her a shot. As they begin to flirt, Louis notices that Rose is eerily adept at typing with two fingers, and he enters her in a local competition, which she wins. As she rises through the national rankings, she begins to fall for him. But he's reluctant to let his guard down after the woman he has always loved, Marie (Bejo), married his best friend Bob (Benson).
Filmmaker Roinsard has a great eye for recreating the period, shooting scenes with the same attention to detail as an episode of Mad Men, but with a lot more sassy humour. He also lets his crew go wild with stylish hair and colourful costumes, plus a fantastic song score. In this post-War setting, the actors are able to catch us off guard with their attitudes to class, politics and most notably gender. Francois gives Rose a feisty determination that's wonderful to watch, because we root for her to break through a multitude of barriers. And opposite her Duris gives another prickly but likeable turn as a not always attractive man who clearly has real depth.
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Rose Pamphyle is a 21-year-old French girl in the 1950s living in dread of the inevitable life of a housewife; invisible to the rest of the world and living in the shadow of her fiancé, a local mechanic. Desperate to pave a more fulfilling path in life, she seeks out a job as a secretary and lands an interview with the head of an insurance company who happens to be the handsome and magnetic Louis Echard. Unfortunately, she makes a terrible mess of the interview and proves to be unfit for the important role. However, Echard is taken aback when he witnesses Rose's fingers flying across a typewriter at an incredible speed and decides to offer her a job - at a price. She has ignited a sporting passion in him and he is determined that she compete in the Regional Championship of Touch Typing with personal training from him. Working so closely together, Echard finds him more and more captivated by Rose, but will his competitive streak form a wedge between them?
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He runs the crew through relentless drills, offers little encouragement, and seems to take unnecessary chances. We soon learn that Polenin -- who remains aboard the sub -- is a father figure to the sailors, while Vostrikov aims to inspire fear. These opposing command styles lead to power clashes throughout the movie, a la Crimson Tide.
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The BBC drama starring Aidan Turner returns to BBC One on September 4th.
It's impossible not to be charmed by this cheeky French comedy, even if it's utterly...