Typed cast

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM -

POP­U­LAIRE Di­rected by Régis Roin­sard. Star­ring Ro­main Duris, Déb­o­rah François, Bérénice Bejo, Shaun Benso

12A cert, lim re­lease, 110 min Its 1958 and, with a nod to The Um­brel­las of Cher­bourg, small town gal Rose (Déb­o­rah François) is dream­ing of the glamorous pos­si­bil­i­ties that life as a sec­re­tary may bring. Her at­tempt to land such a po­si­tion at an in­sur­ance firm looks doomed un­til, with a nod to Mad Men, prospec­tive boss Louis (Ro­main Duris), re­alises that Rose can type like the clap­pers. To­gether, with a nod to Pyg­malion, might Louis be able to coach his klutzy charge to­ward glory in the national


speed typ­ing cham­pi­onship? Will any­thing hap­pen be­tween them on the road to sec­re­tar­ial pri­macy? And will we care less?

For all the film’s pan­der­ing and but­ton-push­ing, our crys­tal ball is telling us there’s at least one thing wrong with this ti­tle. On pa­per, Pop­u­laire looks high con­cept and clever. In prac­tice, there’s so much day-glo ar­ti­fice that we’re left with noth­ing sub­stan­tial to cling to and so much cal­cu­la­tion (it’s this meets that meets the other!) that there’s no pos­si­bil­ity of a heart ex­ist­ing be­hind the hol­low me­chan­ics.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, de­but­ing di­rec­tor Régis Roin­sard re­mem­bers that he is try­ing to be Jac­ques Demy, a re­al­i­sa­tion that trig­gers all sorts of in­con­gru­ous mo­ments, in­clud­ing a weird sub­plot with a nod to The Artist, fea­tur­ing, well, The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo. More fre­quently, the film-maker re­calls that he’s knee deep in a Mad Men- shaped pud­dle, a no­tion that brings about a del­uge of un­con­vinc­ing 1950s iconog­ra­phy. This isn’t a movie: its a ditzy, half-assed look book.

Pop­u­laire is both too frothy and yet not frothy enough to be fun. It is, more­over, a crim­i­nal waste of Duris, the star of The Beat That My Heart Skipped; François, the star of LEn­fant; and Bejo, who took home the Best Ac­tress award from the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val last week for her per­for­mance in As­ghar Farhadi’s The Past.

What can they have been think­ing?

Pretty va­cant in pink: Déb­o­rah François pecks away in

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