Opening 19 May 2016
Michel (Podalydès) is a 50-year-old dreamer with a sweet smile and a passion for propeller airplanes. Toy ones, that is. On his birthday he notices his friends are humoring him and not taking him seriously, and he feels insulted. Things take a new twist, he discovers kayaking (the oar does resemble a propeller, after all). After much procrastination his wife Rachelle (Kiberlain) pushes him out the door and escorts him to a launching spot on a nearby river. Here he stuffs his undertrained body and all his gear into his self-assembled kayak, and so he sets off on a week’s tour of the river.
This delightful French film bears a strong resemblance to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Podalydès names Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country as a conscious influence when writing the screenplay). For the space of a week time is suspended and the sensual delights of the countryside take over. Michel paddles, sips absinthe, camps, and interacts with an eccentric group of country hotel dwellers. The hotel owner Laetitia (Jaoui) takes him under her wing, and waitress Mila (Pons) flirts with him from her circus wagon in the meadow.
The wonderful sound track with chansons by Georges Moustaki, Pharrell Williams and Alain Bashung underscores the adventure of taking a few steps off the regular path and just breathing through for a while. This film is like the best of summer, uncomplicated and clear. (Ann Gebauer-Thompson)