Roxane: An original rural comedy [Critique]

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Mars Films / Quad Films / TF1 Audiovisual Rights / France 3 Cinéma / Les Productions Jouror / Section 9 / Mitico

Roxane is more than a pretty film on rurality in crisis: it’s a pretty feel good fable about the power of words.

To wait until the special evening “Breton countryside” concocted by France 3, here is our review of Roxane, by Mélanie Auffret. This film, released in June 2019, pleased First. It will be followed by Snipe!, by Bruno Podalydès, at 10:35 p.m.

More than a century and a half ago, the journalist Francisque Sarcey wrote in his diary that “Breton peasants are so ignorant that they believe in the influence of the Moon on the tides”. Today, he would add that they are so stupid that they think that literature can change the world. This is what the lovely film Roxane tells us. We follow the story of Raymond, a farmer with a strange secret: the love of words fell on him by chance. Without education or baggage, this peasant cultivated this passion, confessing this inclination only to … his chickens. Every morning he reads to them Cyrano de Bergerac. But when his farm is threatened, Raymond decides to make his literary coming out by making YouTube videos to create a buzz and, who knows, save his farm.

Roxane is first presented as a fine observation of the rural Breton world. Daily rituals, granite characters and very strong social ties: everything rings true. The filmmaker portrays a community in crisis, highlighting the difficulties of today’s peasant world, and recalling that faced with (economic) violence, only the collective pays off. But behind this Breton version of Travaux et les jours hides a beautiful story of love. In the plural because there is first of all the relationship between Raymond, a naive dreamer, and his wife, more down to earth, confronted by her job as a banker with the accounting reality of the world. This couple is put to the test until the final resolution in a subtle scene, which finds the spirit screwball of the 50s (science of gesture and rhythm, finesse of writing, fragile sentimentality). But there is also Raymond’s love for words. De Tonquédec composes a silent character, who refuses dialogue and ends up expressing his feelings through the great classical texts. Naive? So what ? The film recalls the relevance and the power of the great authors who translate our emotions, help us to live and even allow us to acquire a little decency. That’s the beauty of Roxane : the portrait of a Lunar Pierrot who manages to reconnect with the world and fight against bastards, not thanks to YouTube and Facebook, but thanks to Molière, Rostand and Guitry.

Roxane, in theaters June 12, 2019.

Roxane – Guillaume De Tonquédec: “When you play against a hen, you have to be good”

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