The Well-Digger's Daughter

The Well-Digger's Daughter

(La fille du puisatier)

In this French romantic drama the eldest daughter of a well-digger returns home from Paris when the first shots of World War I are fired. When she falls pregnant to a fighter pilot from a wealthy family her father is torn between his sense of honour and love for his daughter as a rift between the two families develops.... More

On the cusp of the First World War in France, 18-year-old Patricia (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) meets handsome young Jacques (Nicolas Duvauchelle) - a fighter pilot. But when Jacques is suddenly called to the front after just two romantic rendezvous, Patricia finds herself pregnant and in the middle of a rift between her father (Auteuil) and Jacques’ upper-class parents (Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Sabine Azéma). The Mazels refuse to acknowledge their grandchild, accusing Patricia of blackmail. But when Jacques is reported missing, will the bond of family triumph over class division?

The first film directed by actor Daniel Auteuil, a remake of Marcel Pagnol's 1940 original.Hide

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Flicks Review

French actor Daniel Auteuil was catapulted to international stardom in movie adaptations of Marcel Pagnol’s novels Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. A fine actor of great renown, The Well-Digger's Daughter is Auteuil’s directorial debut. A remake of Marcel Pagnol’s 1940 movie of the same name, Auteuil also adapted the script and plays Pascal, a hard-working widower, devoted to his six daughters.... More

Yes, in essence this is a simple story of a poor well digger’s daughter (Patricia Amoretti) who falls in love with a rich pilot (Jaques Mazel), but the wonder is in the telling and the delights in the detail. Set in wartime Provence, Auteuil’s precise direction ensures that not a moment of drama, romance or comedy are lost in a beautifully crafted tale that, bar the final scenes, succeeds in shirking maudlin sentimentality - largely due to a superb cast, in which Astrid Bergès-Frisbey shines as Auteuil’s much-maligned daughter, Patricia.

This is a gentle film that nonetheless has a great deal to say about class, honour, loyalty and love in portraying a feud between two families juxtaposed against the events of the First World War. 

The score, by Alexandre Desplat, is the perfect accompaniment to the lush cinematography of Jean-Francois Robin which captures the Provence countryside in all its vibrant colour and natural glory. Plotwise, it may all wrap-up a bit too feel-good and trite for some tastes but, soppy ending aside, Auteuil delivers a fine slice of essential French cinematic delight - dramatic, funny, moving and tragic by turns. Magnifique.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 2 ratings, 2 reviews
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BY Brian1 superstar

A passable watch.

BY AlisonK nobody

i enjoyed this film, but take issue with some of the summary above

** spoiler alert **

i'm not familiar with the earlier film, & know little about 1930s rural france, so i'm taking it for granted that it's an accurate depiction of social & personal relationships

however, the two young people do not "fall madly in love" - they meet twice & have sex on the second occasion; they are clearly attracted to each other: his is physical, hers is emotional/romantic - he's good-looking & a better... More physical & social catch than the older, balding, uneducated chap who works with her dad

they don't have a "romance [which] is curtailed": see above, they have met twice when jacques is ordered away & unable to let her know

& actually, there isn't "a rift between patricia's father (auteuil) and jacques' upper-class parents": they fall out, yes of course, but they were never close; the rift is between patricia & her father - we're not sure - he's not sure - how much he loves her, but the social/community impact of firstly her pregnancy & then secondly her having a son, overrides any personal sympathy

nonetheless, this is a good film: i've mostly seen auteuil as a comic actor & there's more depth here; the atmosphere, the lives are well portrayed

it is leisurely, but more happens than you might realise

yes, it's got a happy-ever-after finish, but that's not inconsistent with the story & the styleHide

The Press Reviews

  • Fans of Manon Des Sources will revel in Auteuil's performance. He proves he's a dab hand behind the camera, too, with a touching romantic drama. Full Review

  • Daniel Auteuil stars and makes a very competent directing debut with this handsome, old-fashioned film. Full Review

  • A polished, finely acted tale of love and class in the south of France. Full Review

  • The humanist spirit of Gallic novelist-director Marcel Pagnol is alive and well in the old-fashionedly sincere The Well-Digger's Daughter... Full Review

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