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Film / Populaire

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Populaire is a 2012 French-Belgian Romantic Comedy film directed by Régis Roinsard. It stars Romain Duris, Déborah François, Bérénice Bejo and Shaun Benson.

The story starts in 1958. Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François) is 20 years old and faces two choices: she can stay in her Norman village and get married to the local garage mechanic, or move to the nearby city of Lisieux and realize her dream to become a secretary. She chooses the second option, and is then recruited by Louis Echard (Romain Duris), an insurer. But Rose soon proves to be incompetent and clumsy. However, upon seeing her speed at typewriting, Louis decides to train her for typewriting competitions. And the two soon feel attracted to each other.

This movie contains examples of:

  • The '50s: Historical and Nostalgic.
  • Boyfriend Bluff: When Louis' family descends for the holidays, he unceremoniously kicks Rose out of his house, rather than explain why she's living there. She tries to reunite with her prickly father back home but just can't do it, eventually coming round to Bob and Marie's on Christmas Eve. Marie promptly demands the keys to the car and drives Rose right back to Louis' doorstep where she introduces her to the entire family as his fiancée and then leaves with a smile.
  • The Casanova: Gilbert Japy is an unrepentant seducer. He seduced his firm's champion typewriter and doesn't hesitate to drop her once she loses to a better adversary.
  • Catchphrase: Louis Echard has the habit to nickname women that are younger than him "Mon chou" (more or less equivalent to "Honey"), including Rose, much to her annoyance. Deliberately done, the film is set in a time before feminism hit it big.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: The "pervert" part is averted. Louis brings Rose to his home because he genuinely wants to help her, he doesn't want to woo her. Initially.
  • Cool Car: The Citroën DS, as usual in French movies set in The '50s.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Rose is both cute and incredibly clumsy.
  • Everybody Smokes: Everyone smokes in the film.
  • Fanservice: A mild kind of fanservice. When Rose demonstrates her skills at typweriting for the first time, the left shoulder tie of her dress falls and her hair goes wild.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: Louis wants his friend Marie to train Rose in piano for greater dexterity, and until she says yes, he performs this trick faster and faster (much to her chagrin). Cut to Rose bandaging his hand in the next scene. But at least Marie said yes.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Bob has a tendency to slip in English phrases now and again, but this is justified since he's actually an American who settled in France, and his French is heavily accented as a result. The New York scene also features a fair amount of English, obviously.
    • World Champion Susan Hunter also surprises Rose with some Gratuitous French to try and throw her off her game.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Rose visits her mother's grave at one point.
  • Groin Attack: When Rose is jokingly asked about typewriting being a real sport by a journalist, she responds by sending the typebar directly into his groin.
  • The Klutz: Rose is a really clumsy secretary initially.
  • Like Father, Like Son:
    • Louis runs what was once his father's insurance company.
    • Gilbert Japy runs the company with his father.
  • Improvised Training:
    • Rose has to train on typewriting machines that are much less sophisticated than her main adversaries, until she wins enough to get sponsored by Japy, the most prominent French producer of typewriters at the time. She is also given piano lessons, to improve her hands' moves.
    • Another training method involves breaking Rose of her natural style of typing with only her index fingers, instead of the standardized method of assigned letter columns to specific fingers. To help Rose visualize what's in the primary color-coded manual, Louis paints all of the keys on her own typewriter to match, and then Rose goes further by painting her fingernails to remind her which fingers touch which keys. Eventually, she gets it.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Louis sketches something in the Paris hotel room that he later shows Bob at the New York competition. "She moves too fast for the machine! Imagine all the words on a sphere!" "...It looks like a golf ball." Bob agrees to try and sell Louis' crazy idea, and if it's a hit, they split it 50/50. Turns out Louis just invented IBM's landmark "typeball."
  • May–December Romance: Louis is 15 years older than Rose.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: We're talking about typewriting tournaments, of all things. And it was serious business back then.
  • My Greatest Failure: While serving in La Résistance, two weeks before the Allied liberation, Louis' unit was attacked and slaughtered. Instead of standing his ground, he ran, far and long, until he realized no one was running behind him. All of his childhood comrades (including Marie's brother) died in that attack. Since that day, he often finds himself finding hard-luck projects (like Rose) to make up for not doing more in that earlier situation.
  • The Namesake: The film is titled after a revolutionary (for its time) typewriter, Japy's La Populaire. It isn't introduced until about half an hour into the film.
  • Opposing Sports Team: American typewriting champion Susan Hunter is a jerkass.
    I thought French women were only skilled at cooking.
  • Privileged Rival: Annie Leprince-Ringuet, Rose's first serious adversary. She's got a Japy typewriter versus Rose's old Triumph model.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Well, it's a movie about typewriting speed competitions so it's a given.
  • Real Men Cook: Louis cooks the meals for the house, prompting a lightly teasing "how modern" by Rose.
  • Sexy Mentor: Louis Echard. He seduces Rose as her training progresses.
  • Sexy Secretary: Rose. She gets even sexier as the story goes.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Louis was a Resistance fighter during World War II and witnessed the killing of all his group by the Germans.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Once Rose unveils her jaw-dropping red dress in the hotel room in Paris. It's obvious she's trying to make something happen between her and Louis, but he's adamant she remain pure and virginal before the competition. Which leads to:
    Rose: It's 1959, girls being virgins before their wedding night went out awhile ago.
    Louis: Well, that's one less thing I'll have to teach you, then.
    [Rose slaps Louis]
    [Louis recoils, then slaps Rose back]
    [cue passionate kissing]
  • Took a Level in Badass: Rose, through her training. She learns to type faster and faster with all of her fingers (she only typed with two fingers initially), to the point of not needing to see the keyboard.
  • Title Drop: When the CEOs of Japy introduce their latest model of typewriter : La Populaire.
  • You Are the New Trend: When Rose's primary-colored training nails are seen by some of Louis' clients, he jokes that this is "the latest fashion in Paris." This becomes a Brick Joke later when Rose is famed as the fastest typist in France, and girls in Paris really are all painting their nails like her.