Though overlong, the French film Populaire (2013) is an entertaining homage to American movie comedies of the Fifties, taking place in 1959. Deborah Francois plays an appallingly incompetent secretary who nevertheless has an amazing knack for typing, while Romain Duris enacts her boss, an insurance man, intent on coaching her in ten-finger (instead of two-finger) typing for several lauded speed-typing contests. Eventually romance blooms, for, after all, the boss is a young man essentially deprived of love and the secretary is a small-town girl in Lisieux who has no beau and is probably a virgin.
Populaire is a seriocomic Doris & Rock-like movie with brief mild nudity thrown in. It understands that an item like Pillow Talk contains strong hints of sexual desire while it readily respects the mores of the time. The same respect exists in this current film directed by Regis Roinsard even as sexual desire is realistically more than hinted at. Really, the movie is in love with pop culture, nostalgically so. Even the pink typewriter necessarily becomes a pop culture element. The film is not as funny as the Fifties’ American comedies (even Hawks’s Monkey Business) but it is rich and buoyant. It has a fine cast too, although Duris does not even come close to declaring his love for the typist convincingly.
No bete noire is Populaire.