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Review: The Well-Digger’s Daughter

Based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol
By PEG ALOI  |  July 24, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

Daniel Auteuil (Manon of the Spring) directs and stars in this melodrama set in Provence during World War I. Auteuil plays Pascal, the title laborer, a widower and proud father of five daughters. A handsome young pilot from a wealthy family charms his oldest, 18-year-old Patricia (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey). Meanwhile, Pascal’s hapless friend Felipe also courts Patricia. Pascal, meanwhile, only wants a male heir, and will go to any lengths to get one. This simple rustic tale is based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol, who directed a 1940 film version. Auteuil faithfully retreads the original, and despite a verbose script and the kneejerk sexism of Pascal, the visual beauty and narrative simplicity make the film a pleasure. Among the excellent cast, Bergés-Frisbey — with her ripe-cherry lips and smoldering sexuality — proves a stunning throwback to a bygone era.

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