“Antoinette in the Cévennes”, in the footsteps of Stevenson

February 14, 2019 by No Comments

Antoinette in the Cévennes ***

by Caroline Vignal

French film, 1 h 35

Antoinette (Laure Calamy) has a lover. The problem is that this one is the father of a student of CM2 of which she is the teacher. And when she declares her love for him, by song interposed during the school’s end-of-year show, there is a moment of embarrassment. Antoinette does not care, she is in love and looks forward to the promise of spending a whole week with him, in Paris, at the start of summer. So she is upset when Vladimir (Benjamin Lavernhe) tells her that he is going with his wife and daughter to hike in the Cévennes with a donkey.

On impulse, she too decides to follow in Stevenson’s footsteps with the secret hope of meeting Vladimir on the way. “And what will you do if that’s the case?” “, ask her, the first evening, the hikers seated in a lodge to which she willingly confides her story. Antoinette does not know. ” Shame on me ! “, she exclaims in front of the reprobation of some. But she is a free woman, and it is this freedom that in the absence of a lover she will find at the end of the road. Thanks to this solo journey and his meeting with Patrick, the Irish donkey who will serve as his guide.

A first big role for Laure Calamy

Because it’s a real love story that will be tied between this crazy city dweller, who arrives in wedge heels and miniskirt, and her four-legged travel companion. At first recalcitrant, doing as he pleases, Patrick will let himself be tamed by Antoinette, become the confidant of her sorrows and the silent witness of her transformation, as she frees herself from her chains. To the point of showing signs of jealousy when it crosses paths with other men …

Caroline Vignal, who returns to directing her first film for twenty years (The other girls), has built this pretty initiatory story, funny and sensitive, starting from the desire to show these magnificent landscapes of the Cévennes, where she herself walked a few years ago. She films them like in a western, in cinemascope, with her collection of lonely characters on their way to their destiny. The film is punctuated by Antoinette’s stages which are the occasion for so many encounters and a gallery of tasty secondary roles, including the one played by Marie Rivière, in a discreet tribute to the Green ray by Eric Rohmer.

In doing so, the director offers Laure Calamy, discovered in the series Ten percent, his first big role in the cinema. The actress, constantly in the image, deploys the full range of her talent. Fearing neither ridicule nor emphasis, she turns out to be funny, pathetic, moving, constantly on the edge between laughter and tears. And makes this Antoinette, a character in which she found personal resonances, a moving character.


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