The review of Me, him, her and the donkey, a French comedy based on feelings, misunderstandings and animals, selected at Cannes 2020.
With the review of me, him, her and the donkey (in original Antoinette in the Cévennes) we go back to June 4, 2020, when Thierry Frémaux announced what he called the Official Selection of Cannes 2020, that is the list of films that would have participated in the festival had it not been canceled due to a pandemic (even if in reality the list was partially misleading, as some of the announced features would not be ready in time for the classic edition in mid-May). A selection that then arrived in theaters with the infamous “stamp” of Cannes, letting those who do not follow all the news understand that the event had actually taken place, and the film by Caroline Vignal is also part of that list. .
A comedy that, like many of the French titles stamped by Frémaux, knows a lot of forcing in the program (hardly, except for a shortage of strong alternatives for the out of competition, we would really have seen it in Cannes if the 2020 edition had been held in the standard version) , an addition made to block the bulk of last year’s transalpine production: the acceptance of the cannense stamp made it impossible to be selected in Venice or Berlin, for example (which is why the French presence at the Lido last September was unusually thin).
Love and mountains
At the center of Io, him, her and the donkey is Antoinette (Laure Calamy), a teacher with a rough secret: an affair with Vladimir (Benjamin Lavernhe), the father of one of her pupils, Alice. The two had planned to spend the summer holidays together, but the situation changes when Vladimir reveals that his wife Eléonore (Olivia Côte) has organized a surprise excursion in the Cévennes National Park, located on the mountain range of the same name in the south of France. . Destroyed, Antoinette later decides to surprise him in turn, presenting himself where she believes he will spend the night. Except that she has not at all informed about the Cévennes area and discovers once she arrives on site that the excursion includes several stops, with him and his family located elsewhere. She must therefore join them, and having opted for the accompaniment of a donkey she must also learn to coexist with this Patrick, notoriously reluctant to listen to anyone.
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And here the donkey falls
The film is mainly a love letter to the region in which it was shot, with explicit references to the first great raconteur in the area, Robert Louis Stevenson, whose itinerary – which has become a book – is the main point of reference for those who visit the park. national team and give themselves to the excursion. It is also the long-awaited return to directing by Caroline Vignal, who made her debut in 2000 with The other girls, selected in Cannes within the Semaine de la Critique, and then worked mainly in theater, radio and television. It returns, two decades later, with a second feature that is at the same time a crazy comedy based on the physicality of Laure Calamy (Noémie in Call my agent !, cult series available on Netflix), here at the height of the humorous form, and a story with sometimes more serious tones, about a woman who humbles herself for love and over time rediscovers herself. An element that has its roots in what is the film of the director’s heart, by her own declaration, namely The Green Ray by Eric Rohmer (and not surprisingly the protagonist of that film, Marie Riviere, has a small role in the story by Antoinette).
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Yet, it is perhaps precisely the Rohmerian aspect that weighs heavily on the operation, at least when our heroine has to interact with other human beings, because the other actors are on a different wavelength compared to Calamy, a sublime comic presence. and dramatic that manages to be stolen only by the donkey, with which it forms a brilliant duo capable of guaranteeing many laughs. Real laughter, not unintentional like those aroused by the Cannes 2020 logo at the opening, the ghost of a non-event with a mostly bogus selection, based on an impulse not so different from that of the seagulls in Finding Nemo who constantly exclaim “Mio! Mio! Mio!“. But once you have overcome that rock the experience in the Gallic mountains turns out to be quite pleasant, in the company of two unlikely friends who have the power to remind us how cathartic the laughter shared at the cinema is.
We close the review of Me, him, her and the donkey, underlining how much it is a nice French comedy that compensates for some narrative and tonal imbalance with a magnificent performance by Laure Calamy, here at the definitive consecration as a star of transalpine laughter.
Because we like it
- The Cévennes landscape contributes to the charm of the film.
- Laure Calamy is simply phenomenal.
- Donkey Patrick is adorable.
- The more serious parts struggle a little.