A frothy, sherbet-colored comedy thats never quite as effervescent as it tries to be, Populaire tells the story of a young woman who finds love through speed typing.
Rose (Deborah Francois) is a pink-cheeked, small-town type in 1958 France, determined to find glamorous work as a secretary. As it turns out, shes pretty lousy at the job except for typing, at which shes quickly discovered to be a whiz.
Her boss, Louis (Romain Duris), decides she has a special gift and appoints himself her coach, determined to bring her to the French national typing championships and beyond.
And off Populaire spins, like cotton candy on a stick, mixing elements of 50s romantic comedy, Pygmalion/My Fair Lady (you almost expect a chorus of the French equivalent of Poor Professor Higgins) and an odd touch of Vertigo.
It feels overlong, and the action isnt quite as snappy as the soundtrack would indicate.
But Populaire is full of small pleasures: the rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat of manual typewriter keys (remember how theyd always jam at the worst possible moment?); the sight of rows and rows of pretty typists waiting for the starting whistle with their hands up and fingers dangling, like puppies waiting for a treat; the way they attack the carriage return as if slapping it back.
As romantic comedy its uneven, but as an ode to something long gone, Populaire hits the right notes.