The Girl From Paris

  • 2001
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Lots of unsatisfied white-collar professionals dream of chucking the rat race for a back-to-the-land fix on the farm. But 30-year-old computer-programming instructor Sandrine Dumez (Mathilde Seignier) does it. She breaks up with her glib boyfriend, Gerard (Frederic Pierrot), leaves her job and enrolls in agricultural school, emerging two years later with...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Lots of unsatisfied white-collar professionals dream of chucking the rat race for a back-to-the-land fix on the farm. But 30-year-old computer-programming instructor Sandrine Dumez (Mathilde Seignier) does it. She breaks up with her glib boyfriend, Gerard (Frederic Pierrot), leaves her job and enrolls in agricultural school, emerging two years later with a degree and a lead on a goat farm in the picturesque French Alps. Gruff, elderly widower Adrien Rochas (Michel Serrault) has had the place on the market for a while, but buyers who aren't put off by the isolation crumple before Adrien's grim picture of life on the farm. Sandrine is undeterred, even by the stipulation that Adrien can't move out for 18 months — a nephew is occupying the family house in Grenoble, and he can't just throw the kid out on the street, he says. She agrees he can stay in the farmhouse, while she renovates the abandoned cattle barn for herself. The community consensus is that Sandrine won't last; the work is too hard and the farm too secluded, she's too pretty and the local men too few and too old. But much to the surprise of Adrien and his equally curmudgeonly friend, Jean (Jean-Paul Roussillon), Sandrine's newfangled ideas are practical. She exploits the spectacular views by opening a guesthouse, offers tours for school groups and uses her web savvy to sell goat cheese online, improving the farm's cash flow in a matter of months. And city girl though she may be, Sandrine works hard and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Adrien actually defends her against the local busybodies, though he'd never say a kind word to her face until the long, hard winter that tests Sandrine's mettle and melts some of Adrien's icy defenses. Yes, the story is pure formula, though given less twinkle and lip gloss than Hollywood would have brought to bear on it; the film is so remake-friendly you can cast it in your head. But Serrault and Seignier (sister of French actress Emmanuelle Seigner) have an unforced rapport and first-time feature filmmaker Christian Carion includes some gritty reminders that farm life can be nasty, brutish and short, particularly for the livestock; there's a pig slaughtering sequence early on that's not for the faint of heart. The film's original title "Une hirondelle a fait le printemps" ("One swallow brought the spring") is a play on the old adage that one swallow doesn't mean it's springtime. (In French, with subtitles)

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Lots of unsatisfied white-collar professionals dream of chucking the rat race for a back-to-the-land fix on the farm. But 30-year-old computer-programming instructor Sandrine Dumez (Mathilde Seignier) does it. She breaks up with her glib boyfriend, Gerard… (more)

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