Whenever I review a French film I always have to mention how much I love the French way of filmmaking. No matter what the story is be it a crime thriller or a romantic comedy or a drama they are always filmed with incredible quality. I have yet to see a French film that was poorly made. The streak of wonderfully made French movies I have seen continued with the 2012 movie Populaire.
Rose Pamphyle lives in a small town near Normandy in the early 1950s. Her father runs a general store. The store has received a brand new typewriter. Rose becomes fascinated with it and begins to type away furiously one night. She decides then and there that she wants to go to Paris to become a secretary. At this time every young woman dreams of becoming a secretary. They get to wear nice clothes, make their own money, and possibly even work for a handsome young boss. Rose answers an ad placed by a young businessman named Louis Échard. Her interview does not go well but instead of leaving she begins to type out a memo. Rose is fast for only using her pointer fingers. Rose’s fast typing intrigues Échard and he hires her.
Échard places Rose in a speed typing competition. He bets his American friend Bob that Rose can win. Unfortunately Rose does not make it too far in the competition because she only uses her pointer fingers to type. Échard bets Bob that he can train Rose and take her all the way to a world championship. He has Rose move into his home so he can train her every day. He starts out by having her practice typing with all her fingers not just the two. He paints the keys certain colors and her fingernails to correspond the colors on the keys so she knows where to place her hands. Éhcard then has Rose type up long passages from books and eventually begins to time her. He even goes so far as to have Bob’s wife Marie (Berenice Bejo) teach Rose to play the piano since it is very much like typing and she can learn to control and use all her fingers.
All of Échard’s work eventually begins to pay off. Rose goes on to become champion of France with her face plastered all over magazines. Since she is the French champion Rose gets to go to the world championship in America.
Of course there is a love story in here between Échard and Rose. He loves her and she loves him but he is still caught up on Marie from before the War and he learns to let his left over feelings for Marie goes and really love Rose and to be there for her at the championship.
Populaire is a cute film. The story I thought was creative because in our modern age we forget that typewriters existed and things like a world typewriting championship happened (if something like this really did exist or not I have no idea but I do not doubt it). Even though the story took place in the 1950s it felt modern in a weird way. I will admit I only wanted to see this movie because I have an undying massive girl crush on Berenice Bejo. She is barely in the movie unfortunately but the rest of the story and the characters are very good that I did not mind that she had a few scenes here and there. At the same time I thought she was wasted any other actress could have played her part. Normally romantic comedies annoy me because their plots and the characters are boring as hell. With Populaire neither the story nor the character ever felt boring or annoying. Everything about Populaire was so well done there was no way I couldn’t not enjoy it. No matter the genre the French just know how to make great films.