Daniel Auteuil made the jump from in front of the camera to behind it with The Well Digger’s Daughter
, choosing to adapt Marcel Pagnol’s story for the big screen. Pagnol also penned the source material to Jean De Florette
and Manon Des Sources
, two of the most acclaimed and popular French films of the past few decades. And while The Well Digger’s Daughter
doesn’t sit side by side with them, it’s still a commendable piece of cinema.
Unashamedly old fashioned in its style, The Well Digger’s Daughter is set around World War II, with Auteuil himself playing the well digger of the film’s title. One of his daughters, meanwhile, is Patricia, and it’s she who begins a short relationship with the son of a wealthy family. He soon disappears, she discovers that she’s pregnant, and from there, the film’s core drama ensues.
You’d hardly call The Well Digger’s Daughter a hard-nosed tail, though, with Auteuil opting for a gentle tone, and an unfussy style for his feature. He recruits a strong cast, too, not least Astrid Berges-Frisbey, who previously made her Hollywood debut in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
To Auteuil’s credit, it’s a beautifully shot film, one that gently deals with issues of class and standing, even if it’s never got any intention of landing a heavy punch. Still, the film is ultimately a strong, well-mounted production, albeit one that might not linger too long in your brain afterwards. It really is lovely to look at, though. --Jon Foster
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: French ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: It's the beginning of the WWII. South of France. Beautiful village girl Patricia (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), 18, is the oldest daughter of a well-digger, Pascal (Daniel Auteuil), who considers her a princess because of her moral qualities. She's kind, devoted. One day, she briefly meets a young man, Jacques, the son of Mazel, owner of the shop where her father buy his material. He's handsome and teasing. Her father's friend, Felipe, would love to marry her, and he invites her to an aviation show. She accepts his invitation only because she knows Jacques is a pilot and will be there. Soon, she'll carry his child, and he'll be gone, and the family will have to deal with this out-of-wedlock pregnancy... ...The Well-Digger's Daughter ( La fille du puisatier ) ( The Well Digger's Daughter )