The Girl From Paris

The Girl From Paris


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If this had been made in England, it would have been a comedy about living with cows, starring David Jason and Jane Horrocks. Being French, it is closer to rural reality, with an underlay of charm and a mild case of the countryside blues.

A girl (Mathilde Seigner) from Paris buys a farm in the mountains of Vercors, with the previous owner (Michel Serrault), an irascible old codger, as sitting tenant. She has a herd of goats, from which she makes cheese, and with the help of an Internet site starts a trekking bed-and-breakfast business.

The farm is stuck away on its own in the hills. The girl meets no one except the old farmer and his closest friend (Jean-Paul Roussillon), who bought a Volvo estate car after selling his farm and still can't make head-nor-tail of the gadgets.

At first, she doesn't mind the isolation. Everything is new and challenging, but once winter sets in and the place is cut off for days by snow storms, it becomes oppressive and lonely.

The film is about the changing relationship between the girl and the old man. It is also about the romance of the country, compared with the inconvenience of trying to make a living from it.

The performances are immaculate, with Roussillon providing comic relief. The girl's ability to transform a disused barn into a Scandinavian-style living space, worthy of Maison Et Jardin, is what you might expect from Hollywood.

The horror of mad cow disease is glimpsed in flashback. The feeling of being trapped in a blizzard on a disabled tractor is suggested, rather than endured. The sadness of stillbirth is compensated by gambolling kids in the spring sunshine. And when the going gets tough, she leaves an unknown student in charge and goes back to the city for an intellectual and emotional boost.

Real life on a farm is harsher by far, but less entertaining.

Reviewed on: 25 Jul 2002
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A city girl buys a farm in the south of France, with the crusty old owner as a sitting tenant.
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Director: Christian Carion

Writer: Christian Carion

Starring: Michel Serrault, Mathilde Seigner, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Frederic Pierrot, Marc Berman, Francoise Bette

Year: 2000

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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