I had to define in a word the kind of film with which Caroline Vignal returns to film direction after twenty years (the debut was The other girls to Critics’ Week of Cannes in 2000: in the middle, television and a bit of screenplays) I would definitely struggle: it starts by rediscovering the spirit of vaudeville, then it becomes a sentimental comedy not without malice (against the protagonist itself) to transform itself into a kind of naturalistic road-movie with feminist veins close to the fairy tale and the moral tale, without forgetting the spirit of the western that peeps out every now and then.
In short, a film determined to surprise the viewer almost to every scene, keeping forever the complicit and placid air that seems necessary to tell a week of holidays in the Cvennes. As perhaps Rohmer would have liked to do. Antoinette in the Cvennes, Antoinette in the Cévennes (the mountain range of southern France) in fact the original title of Me, him, her and the donkey, an Italian titolistic forcing that anticipates the characters in comedy but that loses that semi-fabulous spirit that possesses the French title. Where Antoinette (a surprising Laure Calamy) an elementary teacher who for the year-end essay makes the class sing a kind of hymn to extramarital love (In love by Vronique Sanson) as a crypto-homage to the father of a student who became her lover. Who immediately afterwards announces that instead of the week of passion that they should have spent alone, he has to accompany his wife and daughter on the paths made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson and his diary Traveling with a donkey in the Cvennes (in Italian published Greco & Greco Editore).
And so, driven a little by love and a little by jealousy, Antoinette he decides to follow him on those same paths, booking a donkey and arriving at the hostel from which the first leg of the excursion starts. Where, however, he discovers that no one is accompanied by the stevensonian donkey anymore: too complicated and too tiring. Not only that: around the table where everyone gets to know each other the night before leaving, Antoinette can’t hide the reasons that pushed her up there, picking up some incitement but also some reprimands for her extra-marital love. And here the film definitely changes pace.
By relegating psychology to the background, the film transforms Antoinette in an unlikely Don Quixote in a skirt, which proceeds precisely by virtue of his stubbornness. The criticisms, the difficulties, the problems do not make her question her choices but transform her into a sort of nineteenth-century heroine, forced to go on despite all the adversities. They first take the form of a donkey, named Patrick, who does everything to complicate her journey and then that of meeting her lover (Benjamin Lavernhe), daughter (Louise Vidal) and wife (Olivia Cte). Able to open her eyes to her husband. In a way that could not have been more direct.
So, at this point, the film takes another step: resolved (so to speak) the tribulations of love, Antoinette still has to continue on his journey with the donkey between mountains that are not exactly hospitable and transforms himself from Don Quixote into Little Red Riding Hood, able to discover the charm and mysteries of Nature together with the faithful Patrick. These are perhaps the most naïve parts of the film but also those in which Calamy, on stage practically alone if you leave out the ass, gives the measure of her skill, always in balance between self-irony and a stubbornness not without feminist overtones. .
Starting with a new desire for independence and determination who will unleash when his path crosses those of a group of modern cowboys, with motorcycles instead of horses but ready to melt when they hear My Rifle, My Pony and Me come faceva Dean Martin in A dollar of honor. Thus opening the film towards an epilogue (of regained independence) where Patrick will still have a role to play.
June 6, 2021 (change June 9, 2021 | 5:30 pm)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED