Astrology: Film: ‘Populaire’ (2013)

The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company

Can a movie about national and international typing competitions be a sly nod to Uranian equality in the workplace and female egalitarianism and independence? Mai oui! That’s the message of Populaire, a frothy and visually delicious French delight, directed by Régis Roinsard.

Set in 1958, in a small French village, Rose Pamphyle (Déborah François) is seduced by a manual “Triumph” typewriter sitting in the window of her grouchy widowed dad’s general store. She quickly becomes a self-taught, two-index-fingered typing wunderkind, and heads for the big city to find a job as a secretary.

During her keyboard test at an insurance company, Rose taps out storm and, like a tornado, loosens her hair ribbon in the process, as though she’d just performed a sexy, athletic feat. Her new boss is Louis Echard (Romain Duris), a playboy type who addresses women as “Pumpkin.”

If Rose is ahead of her time, as she yearns to find a mate who can appreciate her burgeoning feminism, Louis has his own issues. An accomplished competitive athlete, he was too self-involved to seal the marriage deal with a beloved previous girlfriend, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), who instead married Bob (Shaun Benson), now Louis’s best friend.

Marie, who still cares for Louis’s well being, recognizes his feelings for Rose. But, Louis, in his eagerness to “help people,” is too involved with developing Rose’s innate typing savvy and grooming her – through rigorous training, disciplined practice and an introduction to touch-typing – to best a grueling 512-keystrokes-a-minute record.

Audiences inclined toward psychology will immediately recognize that Louis is fiercely projecting his sports (Mars) talent onto Rose. But what will Louis do when Rose becomes French national champion, and a big-name typewriter manufacturer starts coaching her on the “Populaire,” a candy-colored machine that becomes the rage?

It’s a foregone conclusion that Louis, supported by his buddy Bob, will come to his senses and try to win Rose back. The fun is watching a woman-as-helper secretarial culture evolve – through a metaphoric Mars-like athletic sprint – into a more modern and sensible arrangement. We gals will keep the fabulous strappy dresses, thank you.

Astrology Film Review: ♂♅ (Mars, Uranus)

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