I do love a retro rom com. Especially if it’s chic-ly French, properly witty, finely acted and impeccably styled. All of which puts Populaire right at the top of the must-see-this-now list. Plus it’s, quietly, a bit of a tale of female empowerment (within the confines of its 1950s-set era) – and heaven knows we could do with pretty much anything along these lines in the month when Disney saw fit to turn warrior princess Merida into a bit of sexed-up passive wuss. (Does this irk you as much as it does me? You can sign the petition to protest against it here.)
Rose (Déborah Francois, channelling Grace Kelly’s look and Katharine Hepburn’s chutzpah) is the small-town grocer’s girl with big-city ambitions. She applies for a job as a secretary (oh-kay, so it’s not exactly breaking the glass ceiling, but bear with me) to Louis (Romain Duris). Upon spotting her superhuman typing skills, Duris signs her up and proceeds to take her under his wing – and in training for a regional secretary competition, from whence she will climb the career ladder. And perhaps fall in love.
(Why am I pretending? Or course she falls in love with him. And of course he is a confirmed bachelor still pining for his now-married-elsewhere childhood sweetheart, Berenice Bejo.)
The typing competitions are – trust me on this – genuinely thrilling, rather like a slightly crazed clerical sporting event, and the chemistry between the leads genuinely sparkles. But it’s the look of the film which wins me over. If you loved The Artist and Eight Women (Alex and I were both a bit obsessed with the latter when it came out – we had impassioned conversations about the costumes over our desks at InStyle), this has your name written all over it. It’s released this Friday – book now. As I write this, I am sporting sandals, a striped dress and bare legs – but I fear the rain is returning. What more of an excuse do you require to book a cosy movie night out?
Just because I can never resist a get the look…
Large oval gold mirror, £206, Sweetpea and Willow; Series 302 telephone, £51.95, Wild & Wolf at Bloomsbury Store
1950s Fashion Prints by Marnie Fogg, Anova Books
The V&A’s online print shop has an amazing collection of prints for sale (from just £15) (Or, for the adventurous, make your own 1950s-style frock. You can download a pattern based on a 1950s ready to wear dress in the V&A’s collection.)