Antoinette in the Cévennes (M) - 96 minutes
Passionate, Antoinette Lapouge (Laure Calamy) is a bundle of energy. She teaches grade five and is having an affair with Vladimir Loubier (Benjamin Lavernhe), the father of one of her students.
She is particularly looking forward to the holidays, which are upon them, because that will mean spending a few days with Vladimir.
But after a school concert and a bit of a make out session, Vladimir drops the news that he has to spend a week with his wife and daughter trekking in the picturesque Cévennes, in south central France.
That news hits Antoinette hard.
On the spur of the moment, she resolves to do likewise, without telling Vladimir.
When she arrives and is introduced to the other members of the party (who do not include Vladimir and his family), she spills the beans on why she is there.
She is also the only one who has engaged the services of a donkey. The animal’s name is Patrick and ... how can I best put this ... he has a mind of his own.
If he doesn’t want to do what Antoinette wants him to do, Patrick will stop dead in his tracks.
As exasperating as that is for Antoinette … on many occasions, she can’t but help build a strong bond with Patrick.
Along the way, the word of why she has come to the Cévennes spreads like wildfire.
In fact, she has become quite the celebrity in those parts.
Meanwhile, she does run into Vladimir and his wife and daughter, leading to an unexpected confrontation, during which a few home truths are sheeted home.
Antoinette in the Cévennes is very much one of those movies that is about the journey.
It is a film filled with humour, warmth, charm and joie de vivre.
Calamy makes Antoinette her own, with a rich, layered performance.
Many of her best scenes come from her interactions with the donkey.
In one, she spills her guts to the animal about the chequered history of her love life.
Writer and director Caroline Vignal, who was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, has built around Antoinette a series of colourful characters.
The cinematography by Simon Beaufils highlights the picturesque nature of the Cevennes.
The film is quirky and played for laughs as well as emotion.
When all is said and done, it is very much a talent showcase for Calamy.
Rated M, Antoinette in the Cévennes scores a 7 out of 10.