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Two French Films and a Travel Diary

Antoinette

When it comes to movies, I have to admit to being a total sucker for quirky French comedies and I have been delighted to discover a few gems at the library on DVD. Here are two I enjoyed recently which both appeared at last year’s French Film Festival. (Click on the titles for links to the catalogue.)

A Friendly Tale is about two couples who are great friends, meeting for dinner regularly. One of the wives, La, is a dreamer and often pitied for not trying for a better career than the retail job she enjoys. But the mall where she works inspires her to write a novel, a book picked up by the publisher of La’s favourite author. Suddenly La is hugely successful which upsets the applecart when it comes to both her friends and her marriage. The ensuing rivalry adds to the humour, while several brilliant character actors get to do their stuff.

Antoinette in the Cevennes is about a school teacher who is looking forward to her summer break and a chance to meet up with Vladimir, her married lover and father of one of her pupils. When he announces to Antoinette that unfortunately he will be on a walking tour in the Cevennes with his family, she books the same hiking tour, and a donkey named Patrick. The story follows Antoinette’s change of feelings about Vladimir and her growing skills in donkey management.

Of the two movies, I particularly enjoyed Antoinette in the Cevennes, perhaps because it is full of humorous moments where Patrick threatens to steal the scene. And then there’s the dramatic landscape. The Cevennes is a ruggedly beautiful region full of great hiking as well as gorgeous little towns tucked in among the valleys. It makes you want to book a holiday with or without a donkey.

The idea of trekking with a donkey in the Cevennes is in part inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson. The author of Treasure Island was still in his twenties when he made the 12-day journey in order to find material for a book as well as to help him get over a love affair. The experience didn’t cured him of his love troubles, while the ensuing book describes his struggles with his donkey, Modestine, and the unusual activity for the time of camping and hiking outdoors for fun. Often he was mistaken for a pedlar.

The libraries have a copy of the book Stevenson wrote: Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes – it’s in Stack, so ask for it at the service desk. The two movies are both in the Foreign Language section of our DVD collection.

Posted by JAM

 

25 March 2022

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