The film has unhurried storytelling and fairy-tale charm.
Courtesy of Kino Lorber Films
Watching the new French film “The Well-Digger’s Daughter,” set at the outbreak of World War I, is like being transported back not only in time but in technique. It’s a movie that could easily have been made 50 years ago, and I don’t mean that as a knock. There is much to be said for a film that values unflashy craft and simple, unhurried storytelling.
Based on the famous 1940 Marcel Pagnol classic, this new version is the directorial debut of Daniel Auteuil, who also wrote the screenplay (Pagnol is given co-credit) and stars as Pascal Amoretti, a working-class widower and father of six girls. The eldest, 18-year-old Patricia (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), grew up in Paris, but three years ago she returned to her small village in Provence to help out her family and the father she idolizes.
More worldly than many of the villagers, and yet fearfully naive, she is seduced by Jacques Mazel (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a dashing pilot and the son of a wealthy local store owner (Jean-Pierre Darroussin). Pregnant, suddenly bereft of the love of the father who praised her as a “princess,” she slips away in quiet disgrace.