The Well-Digger's Daughter
PG, 1hr 47min
Reviewed by Peter Lampp
I know a chap who spent time in sunny France who said he would have loved to have carried a French damsel across a babbling brook.
And yet in this tender if old-fashioned romantic drama, French air force pilot Jacques Mazel (Nicolas Duvauchelle), too handsome for my liking, twice scoops up the innocent 18-year-old Patricia Amoretti (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) so she wouldn't get her toenails wet.
Their overly quick and unseen togetherness in the long grass leads to a clash of classes and families in rural France. After all, Patricia is the daughter of a common man who digs wells.
Her paramour, who heads off to World War II, is the son of a wealthy grocer with a snobby wife, so it was hardly a match made in heaven, a scandal indeed.
This story has endured for seven decades. It is based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol who filmed the original version in 1940 as La Fille du Pusatier, just before the Nazis rolled into Paris. For a hint, Pagnol fathered three enfants out of wedlock.
Sometimes the French are just very Fwench. There are lots of sunny vistas, long grass bending in the gentle breezes and rows of olive trees, such a contrast to Palmy in winter.
The key character is Patricia's father Pascal, widowed and left alone to raise a brood of six girls of which Patricia is the eldest. His role is acted marvellously by Daniel Autieul, who also directs the film.
His stubborn old-fashioned values are admirably traditionelle, torn between his honour and love for his daughter.
Vivid are the scenes where he leads his girls in pied piper fashion on foot along French country roads while others motor by in their antique Peugeots.
Speed readers will get the most out of the English sub-titles because in these arty French films, the dialogue and use of the metaphor is clever. Women will fall head over high heels in love with this love story; chaps will like it.
It is a rarity in that we are spared cussing, violence and strangely, for a romance, you have to rely on your fertile imagination for the lovemaking. A wholesome story, if a little predictable.
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