La fille du puisatier (2011) Poster

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8/10
in hands of red clay, down the well
CountZero31328 December 2011
A wonderful cast facilitate Daniel Auteuil's vision of wartime France in this gentle, love-filled drama/comedy about a working man's attempt to maintain the honour of his family after his eldest of six daughters go astray.

Pascal has always wanted a son, but finds himself a hard-working widowed father of six daughters instead. When the son of local bourgeoisie, the Mazels, seduces his daughter before being packed off to war, Pascal and his daughter are ill-treated by the frosty Mazels. Pascal learns not to trust people "who sell tools, but never use them." But he is also honorable, exiling his disgraced daughter Patricia, who herself refuses compromise by rejecting the repeated proposals of her father's co-worker Félipe, an honest, industrious, but prosaic individual. Pascal has honour, but Félipe has love. The war intervenes in events, not once but several times, becoming a catalyst that brings to resolution the feud between the two families from opposite classes.

Auteuil handles the comedy effortlessly, but also shows depth and steel when darker tones are needed, such as handling the humiliations dished out carelessly by the shallow, emotionally volatile Mrs. Mazel. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey is simply superb as the much-wronged Patricia. Her expression when waiting by the church for a lover she believes has spurned her is exquisitely pained.

The direction keeps most of the action outdoors or in daytime, allowing Provence to glimmer and shine. There are small moments of poetry here; Pascal turn-taking a kiss with his youngest daughter as they wait for guests;interactions with a baby who melts everyone's heart, cast and audience alike; the strong bond of friendship between Pascal and Félipe.

This is a well-crafted tale of love, family, work and honour that never gets too sentimental and earns the many tears and smiles it evokes. An uplifting, joyful film, and we all need one of those from time to time.
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9/10
Timeless moving story served by great actors and a good direction
Aryia25 April 2011
The Well-Digger's Daughter is a french movie, remake of another famous french film of the 40's.

If you don't know anything about french cinema, know that this remake features well known comedians such as Daniel Auteuil (it's also his first work as a director), Kad Merad, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Sabine Azema, and Marie-Anne Chazel.

The original film was directed, written and produced by Marcel Pagnol, famous not only for his films but also for plays and novels that have become classics.

The remake definitely honors the classic, and I can't find one single thing to criticize. The actors all deliver moving and natural compositions, from the loving and torn father (Auteuil) to the moody Mrs Mazel (Azema), from the benevolent Felipe (Merad) to the seductive Jacques (Duvauchelle). By the way, it certainly isn't hard to see why the heroine falls for him after just one encounter ;) The main character, Patricia, is played with tact and sweetness by Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, who somehow reminds me of Jane March. She was unknown before this role (even if it's not her first), but no doubt this is the year of her breakthrough, as she will soon be seen interpreting a mermaid in the next Pirates of the Caribbean.

The direction is precise, careful, and manages to capture each small emotion of the characters. It really serves well the beautiful and moving plot. You're completely immersed into the story and can have your eyes wet more than once, even though the movie isn't a melodrama nor a tragedy. This story is timeless, and universal. I would recommend it to absolutely everyone. It's a 5-star film!
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9/10
Yes, even if you love the Pagnol-Raimu version, see this
richard-178727 March 2012
Remaking a Pagnol film is asking for trouble. Film snobs will dismiss the remake without giving it a chance, though 60 years ago those same film snobs probably dismissed Pagnol as a film director, finding him hopelessly inferior to Renoir or ... Afficionados of Raimu, an unquestionably great actor - when he had a good role - will say that no one can do what he did. And they would be right; no one can out-Raimu Raimu. A force of nature, because Raimu at his best was a force of nature, cannot be imitated or equaled. But a role can be done a different way, even if the words are the same, just as different great actors can succeed at Hamlet or King Lear. And yes, I speak of Shakespeare. Theater/literature snobs can guffaw, but who cares? Let them go about their business.

And I will go about mine, which is to talk about this movie, which is remarkably moving. Moving in part because Pagnol's script was a masterpiece, yes, but also because this is a very well-done realization of it.

The first thing that struck me about this movie was the color, when you see the scenery. Pagnol, for whatever reason, really didn't do a lot with scenery in his black and white movies. This movie shows what that deprived us of. It is done in the best tradition of the color versions of Jean de Florette, Manon des sources, La gloire de mon père, and Le château de ma mère. The countryside around Salon de Provence comes alive, and is beautiful.

I was also struck by the use of music, which again is not a high point in Pagnol's version. The Italian song, so wonderfully recorded by Caruso, is used in very moving ways here. Auteuil has a better sense of how to use music in a film than Pagnol did, at least with this script.

But the heart of this movie is Pagnol's text, and this cast, a great one, does it beautifully. True, at times, as I marveled at the genius of Pagnol's text, I wondered if that meant these actors were acting it, rather than becoming the characters. That may be true in some cases, though not for Kad Merad, who becomes Philippet every bit as much as Fernandel did. I can hear Raimu reciting the lines Daniel Auteuil speaks, and beautifully, perhaps because they are so different, certainly because Raimu delivered them in a way that engraved them in my memory. But Auteuil makes them very moving as well. He is not a force of nature as Raimu was, but his Pascal is also a real character.

What I realized, over and over again watching this movie, is that the script was indeed written by a playwright, and Auteuil respects that. We still have fully-developed scenes, as movies used to have when they were still imitating theater. And, as a result, with this great script and these great actors, we have deeply moving moments, such as when Pascal says goodbye to his daughter, sending her off to raise her bastard child elsewhere. Or, even more deeply moving, when the parents of the father of her child, having just lost their son in the war, come to see the child, the last remnant of their now lost son. Every line of that scene is deeply moving: Pascal's pride in his grandson, the parents' grief and longing for their son. (I didn't care for the mother's final admission that she burned her son's letter rather than deliver it to Patricia; that was better done in the previous version.)

A film script is like a play: it can be done in more than one way, if it's worth doing - as this script most certainly is. It will not wipe away memories of Pagnol's 1940s version, nor should it. You don't have to forget Olivier's Hamlet to love Jacobi's, or Branaugh's, or ... I suspect the very film snobs who dismiss Pagnol's own work will cause this film not to enjoy the success it deserves, but that would be a real crime. This is, in fact, a wonderful realization of Pagnol's very beautiful, very wonderful script.

---------------------------------

I watched this movie again this evening, and really have nothing to add to what I wrote before, other than to say that it is a beautiful realization of Pagnol's script. Auteuil, Merad, and Darroussin are three of modern French film's finest actors, and they all give first-rate performances here. The often wonderful dialogue is delivered as in a great movie or play, lovingly and beautifully. Watch this. It's a deeply moving and wonderful movie.
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10/10
Great Film needs new English title!
kinolieber11 March 2012
This marvelous film is based on a Pagnol novel which I had never heard of. Maybe it's well-known in France and so the title is familiar to audiences there. But in the US "The Well Digger's Daughter" should keep people away from this film in droves. In fact, the film is an old fashioned fable set in the French countryside during the period of World War I. Even though the plot turns are seen coming a mile away, the film has such charm and simple feeling and wisdom, that there is enormous pleasure in watching the story unfold. Auteuil is perfect as the father, as is every other actor, especially Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as the daughter of the title and Nicolas Duvauchelle as her 'prince'. And the music by Andre Desplat is one of his best scores. The setting and the lives of the characters are so beautifully depicted, there is so much pleasure to be had in entering their world for two hours, that it seems a shame that American audiences will have to overcome their disinclination to see a movie about a well-digger and his daughter when there is this rich and deeply emotional story waiting for them in the cinema.
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10/10
Excellent and faithful adaptation of the Marcel Pagnol classic !! Highly recommended !!
gadjoproject20 June 2012
Daniel Auteuil is one of my favorite actors... in the world.

I rented this film earlier tonight from Video Futur, a French movie rental chain, after missing it at the cinéma. My girlfriend and I just finished watching it. Wow.

It's fantastic !!! Of course, you should start with the Marcel Pagnol classics like Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. Read the books, watch the films, fall in love with the south of France. If you're already familiar with the works of Pagnol, you can jump right in and enjoy. Heck, even if you're not familiar with them, watch this film anyway.

In my opinion, Provence is the most beautiful place in France, and possibly the world. Pagnol used real locations in Provence, including Aubagne, Salon, and other locales as the settings for his best dramas.

This is no exception. La fille du puisatier (English: The welldigger's daughter) is a well-crafted story that I believe Americans, and cinema fans all over the world, will enjoy. The film is an excellent and faithful adaptation of Pagnol's original story, and the actors' performances elevate this film to the highest level.

Auteuil, along with co-stars Kad Merad and Jean-Pierre Darroussin knock this thing out of the park. I remember Merad and Darroussin from other films, including L'immortel (English: 22 bullets), but this takes the cake.

This is not to take away from the amazing performances of the daughter in the title, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Patricia Amoretti, as well as the solid performance of Emilie Cazenave as her sister Amanda.

All in all, great acting, great writing (based on an already-good story) and beautiful cinematography, made for a completely enjoyable viewing experience, at least for us.

I hope this comes out soon in the US so that American audiences can see for themselves.

I remember seeing Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources (English: Manon of the spring) in my high school French class. My teacher was nice enough to share some French movies with us. Decades later, I'm lucky enough to be living in France, putting all those French lessons to good use, enjoying Pagnol again, and dreaming, everyday, about moving back to the south.....to Provence.
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8/10
Sweet and funny and beautiful, a very human tale told with love
secondtake15 April 2013
The Well Digger's Daughter (2011)

A drama set in the early 20th Century that ends up being about traditions and love and how two different kinds of families come to understand each other. While not a Romeo and Juliet story at all, it has that basic problem when two young people from different social realms fall in love.

What keeps this from becoming commonplace is the beauty of it all, including what I would call beautiful acting--heartfelt, nuanced, interesting. In a way it is the well digger, the dad played by Daniel Autueil who is the main character. He's a familiar face (if not name) to those who have seen a few French films, and he's wonderful. Though a practical man (he digs wells the old fashioned way for a living), he has a sense of dignity and honor that impresses even the rich family whose charming son has seduced the title character.

We feel no violation here, just the normal confused crossed-star love issues. War intrudes, and then the dreaded report from the front, and the families still have to cope together. For reasons you'll see.

Marcel Pagnol, the great mid-Century French writer whose story is the basis for this, was also a filmmaker, and you can feel a kind of homage or influence at play here, which adds yet another layer of appreciation.

It's also a really funny movie, one of the dramas that is so witty and warm you laugh along with the characters like you would your friends (assuming you have funny friends). I loved the whole experience. If it ends with a feeling like, okay, all is resolved one way or another, I guess that's fine. There is no epiphany here, but rather a sweet slice of life from a provincial time we'd love to never forget.
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9/10
Terrific...as you'd expect from a Pagnol story.
MartinHafer27 July 2014
Marcel Pagnol was a wonderful French writer, director and playwright. His stories are indeed classics and have been filmed, re-filmed and even re-filmed again. So, it's not at all surprising that Daniel Auteuil has decided to take a stab at Pagnol's classic stories--not just starring in them but writing the new screenplays and directing them. I say that's not surprising because not only are these wonderful stories, but Auteuil also has previously been in a couple other Pagnol stories--"Jean de Florette" and "Manon Des Sources". His four new films consist of this film, "The Well-Digger's Daughter" as well as the wonderful trilogy consisting of "Marius", "Fanny" and "Cesar"--which just recently debuted and which are not yet available here in the States. I cannot wait to see these three most recent movies.

"The Well-Digger's Daughter" is a story with many similarities to the Fanny Trilogy Auteuil made following this film. All are set in Provence, concern ordinary folks and are about the complications that arise from an unplanned pregnancy.

The story begins with the daughter, Patricia (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) meeting a handsome young man, Jacques (Nicolas Duvauchelle) when she's on her way to bring her father, Pascal (Daniel Auteuil), his lunch. The audience KNOWS based on their meeting that the two are destined to be a number. However, there are some complications---such as Felipe (Kad Merad) wanting to marry Patricia. But, of course, much more serious complications arise--and I don't really want to get to them here--just see the film.

I love films about ordinary people--and Pagnol's are about as ordinary as you can find! Some may not be quite so captivated by these folks-- they aren't exactly rich, cultured or the Hollywood types. But, I am pretty ordinary as are 99% of movie viewers! So why not enjoy the lives and loves of folks we can relate to?! Plus, the story is so nicely written, lovingly directed and enjoyable that I strongly recommend you give it a try.

By the way, Pascal's grandson, who he treats as if it's HIS kid is actually Zachary Auteuil--the actor/director's real life son!
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10/10
A timeless story told beautifully!
Tim Johnson25 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
We were lucky enough to view this marvelous French film yesterday in Fremantle and both of us were touched by the simple story of boy meets girl; girl has his child but things turnout well in the end. The conflicting problems are the unspoken classism of France in those early WW I years that more obviously exist in England but are relatively unknown in France. Some negative commentators spoke from a Feminist perspective about the girl being only a cardboard figure without substance but from our point of view those considerations were unimportant given the beauty of the cinematography and the relative newness of the unfolding story (that is, how the various people played their roles at that time in French history.) We were not prepared to rubbish the film because of modern concerns; the actions of the characters all made sense to us and we considered them to be one example from a plethora of similar timeless actions. Perhaps the only fault that could be drawn was that the ending seemed rather more pat than reality would have allowed in those days.

The actors played their roles beautifully and the nuances of the script were delightful in their unfolding. There were many insights (to me as a foreigner) into life at that time in France and as a result I am not prepared to make any negative comments about the story nor the script. We thought it was a beautiful film and well-worth the time and expense to see it.
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10/10
A powerful and emotional drama of Provence in days gone by
robert-temple-113 August 2012
Another reviewer has rightly pointed out that the title of this film in English is going to keep audiences away from the English-speaking cinemas in droves. But the original French title of which it is a translation, LA FILLE DU PUISATIER, had to be retained in France. That is because it is a remake of a famous and classic film of 1940 directed by Marcel Pagnol from his own novel, and thus it needed to have the same title, so that French people would know what it was. The screenplay adaptation of the remake is by Daniel Auteuil, who also directed the film and starred in it (playing the part of the well-digger). Auteuil, one of France's most famous actors, has a long history of association with Marcel Pagnol's tales of early 20th century Provence. Those who like French movies will certainly remember the pair of immensely popular films based on Pagnol novels which were directed by Claude Berri and starred Daniel Auteuil, JEAN DE FLORETTE and MANON DES SOURCES (both 1986). At the moment three further Pagnol remakes are being filmed, with Auteuil in the leading role of César, of Pagnol's famous trilogy of films, known as 'The Marseilles Trilogy'. The individual tiles of the trilogy are CÉSAR, FANNY, and MARIUS. Let us hope that a full-fledged Pagnol revival gets going, as the old films as well as the new are a pure delight. Credit for keeping the flame alive must go to Pagnol's remarkable daughter, whom I visited long ago in her office on the far side of the Periphérique. She is a powerful and determined personality and she kept the old Pagnol films in distribution and arranged for all the new ones to be made, and is a fierce guardian of the integrity and continuity of the family's creative flame. The Pagnol films are about 'real people' in the South of France, where Pagnol came from, and the thick accents in the Marseilles Trilogy are a marvel to the ear, and as different from Parisian French as a Mississippi drawl is from the speech of an inhabitant of Brooklyn, or as an impenetrable Glasgow accent is from the way they speak in London. This film is a pure delight, beautifully directed by Auteuil, and featuring as his eldest daughter (the one of the title) a fresh young actress of the utmost charm named Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, aged 25, who is part Spanish and as beautiful as a rose petal sparking with Provencal dew in the morning. The story allows her to have been sent away and educated in Paris, to explain why she does not speak like the locals. She is absolutely perfect casting, has all the right qualities for the part, and does a wonderful job. Auteuil is, as usual, superb. The rest of the cast are also excellent. This is a very poignant and emotional tale, as Pagnol stories usually are, and I would rate it as an instant classic. Everyone should see it, though outside of France, I wonder how many really will. It would be a shame for anyone who enjoys and looks forward to a superb French film to miss it, as this is in the top rank.
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9/10
It's Great, Dig?
writers_reign11 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Writer-director Marcel Pagnol set the bar pretty high in terms of film-making, not least when he made La Fille du puisatier in 1940 with some heavy hitters in the shape of Raimu, Fernandel and Charpin as respectively the eponymous well-digger, his friend and colleague Felipe, and Monsiour Mazel, the father of Jacques, who leaves the eponymous daughter pregnant and goes to war. Luckily Danile Auteuil is lion-hearted and makes a great fist of his affectionate remake plying the Raimu role himself with Kad Merad as the friend and Jean-Pierre Darrousin as Monsiour Mazel plus, for good measure, Sabine Azema as Madame Mazel. This is a film with charm to spare and wonderful shots of Province that tell us immediately why so many English people move there whilst inspiring others to follow suit. It's a film for all the family which chooses to avoid weightier issues - for example 'honor' marriages which, in the present day lead often to Asian girls choosing death or having death chosen for them by parents obsessed with honor - and concentrate on wholesome entertainment. Highly recommended.
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8/10
A nice, sweet French movie
rebecky1421 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I happened to catch this sweet film at the Alliance Francais French Film Festival in Adelaide today, as my French class went for an excursion. I was pleasantly surprised. The Well Diggers Daughter is a simple story: set during World War I in France, the young daughter (Patricia Amoretti) of a poor well digger falls in love with a young, handsome, rich pilot (Jaques Mazel). They share some moments together, but almost immediately he is called away to fight on the front line in the war. He leaves and three weeks later is presumed dead, due to his plane being shot down in flames and crashing behind enemy lines. Meanwhile, the young well diggers daughter is now pregnant. Shocked, her father disowns her and sends her to live with her aunt.

The Well Diggers Daughter was a nice, feel-good movie about family and young love. All the characters were very well acted, in particular the father (who I'm pretty sure was actually played by the film's director).

The scenery was just gorgeous. In almost every scene, there were these beautiful wide, establishing shots of the countryside, which always had a lot of trees, barely any civilization and lots of sunshine and waving grasses.

The music was also great. I noticed in the credits that all the music was composed by a personal favorite: Alexandre Desplat, who actually wrote the music for New Moon (that was a bad movie, but the music was beautiful).

The only problem I have with this movie is that it was a bit cheesy. Especially at the end, everything was sorted out perfectly fine, with everybody happy. And rather abruptly, the character of Jaques came back, perfectly fine, from the war, where he was meant to have died. I was disappointed by that, not that he lived of course, but that everything was suddenly just fine.

It was an enjoyable, sweet film about family and love.

8/10
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9/10
A beautiful story
Luigi Di Pilla5 February 2012
I am totally satisfied with this choice. It's one of the best french movies from last year. It tells a wonderful story in the very nice Provence from South of France. It's about ethical family values for father Amoretti and his children. The dialogs have great quality and let me reflect from begin to the end. It was never boring because I felt lot of emotions with the plot. Then the performance and direction from Daniel Auteuil was one of the best I have seen so far. Congratulations to the author Marcel Pagnol for this novel. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey played very respectable the role of the daughter Amoretti. The young pilot didn't convince me because his character was portrayed here too clunky and his voice heard inappropriate. The film shows very nice pictures from this beautiful region. For all these reasons it deserves a solid 9/10. Don't miss it, you won't regret. I will add it to my best of DVD collection. Don't miss the great thriller 36 QUAI DES ORFÈVRES with Daniel Auteuil.
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10/10
France in All Its Beautiful Glory!
JLRMovieReviews20 November 2013
Awarding-winning actor Daniel Auteuil made his directorial debut, remaking this story of The Well-Digger's Daughter, set in a small countryside village of France just before a war. I'm not sure, but I think it's WWII. He is the well-digger and he has a late teens/young-20ish daughter who is the apple of his eye. Daniel's partner in well-digging likes her very much, despite the age difference. The plot thickens when she makes an instant liking to a boy, of her own age, when he helps her across a river. They don't know who each other are, but he figures out who she is before she him. He's the son of the rich shopkeeper. The boy volunteers for the war effort, and the obvious events happen to the young girl only after he's gone. In fact, this plays out very predictably like a Hallmark movie and the setting could very well be any small town in early 20th century America with its small town thinking, like The Magic of Ordinary Days, which I loved by the way. The plot may be predictable, but what makes this film stand out is the director's obvious love of the time, the place and story. The people are real. The landscape is beautiful. The mood and laid-back treatment is right on track to make this otherwise average film a very moving experience and love story.
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10/10
Quality Story-Telling Returns to the Screen, a la France
Nom Johnson23 May 2015
Beautiful scenery, perfect casting, quality story-telling, and content that reflects beauty and meaning such that we hardly get to see anymore -- at least, not on the big screen.

Or on the home screen.

If you love good film, good company, and good values, don't miss treating yourself to this flick.

And if you've forgotten what those could look like, well-blended together, go out of your way to be reminded.

I don't think you will be disappointed.

You may even find something stirring in you, that feels like Real Life once again, not the life we Americans have, for too long, been dished out via our values-free society.
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10/10
The Most Beautiful Film.
jeustace72 November 2014
This movie gave me the same elated, lighter than air feelings as Chaplin's "City Lights." It was amazing to see the film never dodge a single important factor in all the sordid repercussions of the titular woman's misdeeds. At the same time, I never felt like I was being dragged through emotional hell just for some theoretical catharsis. At times the film reminded me of a less block-headed and ham-fisted version of "Fiddler on the Roof" (also no singing Jews). Lastly, and most beautifully, the film offers up a shining example of the benign influence of a strong, loving father. It makes you remember the sort of picture of God that a father is supposed to be.
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7/10
Leaves you a bit disappointed
Hot Potato5 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Well Digger's Daughter. There is something rather attractive about this simple predictable plot, but a bit more complex, quaint movie. You want to very much like it, but it's ultimately very disappointing. You try to adapt to the different morals that are claimed to be of a different time, then you realize there is nothing immoral, just no real moral core to grab on to. You seem to love the sweet quiet convent girl Patricia, and she grows on you as the movie progresses and her character develops. You begin to think by the end she is maybe the only true moral character in the lot and then very disappointingly she becomes as shallow as the rest. Say, like with Jacques, is he just played by a poor actor or is he as simple, shallow and pointless as he comes across. Then of course Pascal, the main character, appears complex, you try to read him as his character develops and progresses. You eventually realize he is a strange morality that all the plot wires do not connect. Simple, so watch it that way, if you look for more it falls apart. Ehhh!!
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2/10
Anti-feminist story
b_kemp69335 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Superficially this is chocolate-box romance. It is set in beautiful countryside in a world of constant summer. Even though it takes place over a year there is continuous warm sunshine.

The story centres on the well-digger, Pascal: the daughter, Patricia, is a cipher, without personality, with no voice, and seemingly incapable of independent action. Does anyone really want to see this kind of woman in fiction or in life? Pascal is well-drawn; he is self-centred, a martinet, a hypocrite, unwilling to listen to anyone, and actually rather stupid. He is also crude- he comments on his dead wife's sexuality to his employee.

At the opening of the film the daughter is described as universally liked because of her kindness. Of course she is kind. She is looking for affection and love after being sent from her home and mother at a very young age. You can imagine Pascal forcing his wife to accept this- 'in the interests of the child' of course. If the baby had been a boy... The daughter is only allowed back because circumstances force her return.

How to explain her easy seduction by an unsuitable youth after one brief meeting? Obviously she is looking for love at any cost.

Pascal tries to reach a deal with the youth's parents. No chance. He immediately disowns her. He casts her out (Victorian tyrant!) and only pretends to kiss her goodbye to deceive his other daughters. Yet it would have been better for everyone is she had stayed at home.

Months pass. Still summer though! He destroys unread a letter from her. Then he goes to visit her. The first thing he does is to pretend to drown the baby. What a joke! This terrifies her, but she says nothing, and he shows no shame at his cruel stupidity.

He soon wants to take over the baby (because it is a longed-for boy, presumably). She accepts this. She is a doormat throughout.

The youth has made only one very feeble attempt to find the girl. Yet they agree to get married. Only after he has been killed in a blazing plane and found alive unharmed. What a load of rubbish.

At the altar he says he doesn't want to marry. Only a joke! She believes him, but no recrimination from her for his brutal insensitivity.

There are equally daft subplots, for example with the second daughter having an unaccountable passion for the daughter's castoff. This reults in an off-on-off probably-on relationship.

It is well acted throughout. And it is pretty.

Incidentally there is a war on, but everyone ignores it.
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4/10
not awful, but unsatisfying
zee2 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
(I never saw the original.) This story is probably too dated for young viewers uninterested in the morality of a bygone age (though it should make us all thrilled those days are dead, dead, dead).

The film is certainly gorgeous to look at. Costumes, the countryside, even the old cars, all beautiful. Most of the acting is great except for the female lead who has only one expression--sad with optional tears. If she's lustful, hopeful, worried, offended, the face stays in that one expression. It becomes wearying then frustrating and makes her less "beautiful" with every frame. (I was reminded of Kristen Stewart biting her lip all the danged time.) Perhaps she was trying to play the girl as mildly retarded (which could be--she certainly was rather an idiot at every turn), but whyever this choice, it didn't work for me, and a viewer's belief in her attractiveness and "goodness" (doormattishness) is crucial to make the story work.

In the end, this movie is a big "so what?" to me. The story has been told before, it's hopelessly outdated, and it adds nothing to our understanding of human nature. It's not a happy ending seen through my world view. The mother-in-law gets away with horrors that suggest the rest of the young couple's life will also be hellish because of her. And the "I'll take you as a consolation prize" ending for the sister and soldier is equally as horrifying to contemplate.
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3/10
Chauvinistic twit of a father
BJ Murphy30 May 2013
Reverse the roles, sons instead of daughters - and men would loathe this film . As a female and a grandmother I certainly did. The father was a buffoon and had no RESPECT whatsoever for any of his 5 daughters.

And inferring it was his wife who gave him a daughter, then another, then another daughter does not know simple biology. The MALE determines the sex of a child not the female .

If men treated their females like this in the 1930's in Europe I shudder

to think how many centuries it will take for Womens Human Rights

to take hold in countries like the Middle East and Asia .
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7/10
Liked it, but couldn't quite love it.
runamokprods29 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I alternated between being charmed and a bit put off by actor Daniel Auteuil's directorial debut -- a sweet (sometimes sticky sweet) re-make of Marcel Pagnol's 1940 film. The film is a bit odd tonally; alternating between occasional bathetic intense emotion (scored to opera at times no less), and being a slightly too convenient and cute comedy of manners.

Some modest spoilers ahead.

Auteuil plays a working-class paterfamilias with 5 daughters, including an 18 year old favorite he has seen only as a perfect angel. But now she has brought the family to shame by getting pregnant by a rich and handsome local boy, who promptly leaves to fight in WW I -- and her father turns on her and casts her out.

The film seems to want to have it both ways – we're told to feel bad for the cruel banishment of the daughter, but not TOO bad, since in the end dad (now grandpa) has to prove to be a good guy at heart. Auteuil - an actor I usually really enjoy – gives a slightly hammy (if admittedly amusing) performance, bouncing a bit too far back and forth between near monster and adorable gruff old guy. Also slightly problematic; the young couple are beautiful, but there's not a ton of spark there either individually or as a duo.

There are some very good scenes, and I was extremely taken by Kad Merad in a supporting role as an endearing 40ish friend/employee of the father who is hopelessly in love with the young daughter. For all the rough spots, I modestly enjoyed the film. It's just that there were hints of a terrific movie early on, so when it ended up as just a nice, old-fashioned and somewhat predictable one, there was a sense of disappointment.
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