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Girl from Paris, The
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by Chris Parry

"Are we going to call this 'freedom film'?"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SEATTLE FILM FESTIVAL: The great thing about a film festival is that thereís a pretty solid chance that with every three films you see, one will suck, one will be okay, and one will be a great film that most people will never see. The Girl From Paris is most definitely the latter, and thatís a pity because it deserves to be seen on a boatload of screens. While this isnít a film that will set box office records, itís most certainly as pleasant a 100 minutes as Iíve spent in a theater in some time; a film that had me wanting to book a trip to rural France, but only if it could be guaranteed I could spend my days milking Mathilde Seignerís goats.

Sandrine (Seigner) is an internet trainer in downtown Paris, but something inside her yearns to be a part of the rural countryside, making cheese, reading by candlelight, getting her hands dirty and having nothing to do with peak-hour traffic whatsoever. Her mother doesnít get it, her ex is bemused by the decision, but Sandrine is determined to study farming, buy a farm and make it work. The catch comes when the grizzled old owner of the farm sheís buying (Michel Serrault) makes her agree to let him stay on the farm when she buys it. Thus begins the city versus country clash of egos that will inevitably tear at these potential friends, bring them closer together, and tear yet again.

Seigner is superb in the lead role, demonstrating (as so many French actresses have) that you donít have to be a 22 year old rake with fake breasts to be glamorous, smoldering, sexual and sophisticated on the big screen. The French, more than any other nation, have again and again shown that the best actresses are those with experience, and that the strongest, most attractive characters are those with a little wear. Seigner is by no means Emanuelle Beart in terms of years in the business, but sheís certainly a strong actress, a break-out from the Hollywood cookie-cutter, and very, very striking. Now if only American filmmakers would embrace the largely unemployed 30+ actress base, maybe we could move away from Tomb Raiders and more towards romances that have a little reality in them.

Opposite Seigner, Michel Serrault is a great gruff old bastard. Clearly the screenplay hasnít been set up to make him look evil, but it would have been so easy for a character like this to become unappealing and two-dimensional, whereas the veteran Serrault hits the nail right on Ďle headí and turns in the perfect compliment to Seignerís performance.

While the city vs country topic was approached earlier this year in the recent American indie Nosey Parker, The Girl From Paris handles this premise in a little manner thatís a little more commercially acceptable. Nosey Parker was a meandering story of growing affection between old and young, urban and rural, where both sides have some growing to do. On the other hand, The Girl From Paris pegs the old country boy as the reason for any dissention and makes it clear that he needs to drop his ego and let the smarter city girl teach him how to suck lemons.

And thatís perhaps the only aspect of the film that detracts from the whole, because while the director makes farmer Adrien most definitely the bad guy, he doesnít have the courage to make the character really pay for his nasty ways. Instead, he takes the more audience-friendly route of dotting iís, crossing tís and tying up the ending with a nice frilly bow.

The Girl From Paris is that rare film that crosses all age groups, both sexes and any movie taste. Watch with your grandmother, rent it with your folks, enjoy a nice slow afternoon in rural France and swap the popcorn for brie and a nice sauvignon. You wonít be disappointed.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7796&reviewer=1
originally posted: 06/07/03 23:33:26
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/18/07 Lynda Brewton I loved this film. It was touching, inspiring and moved me emotionally. I admired Sandrine. 5 stars
1/04/04 Azh sucky 1 stars
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  21-Mar-2003 (NR)



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