My Donkey, My Lover & I

Don’t be put off by the rather silly English  title of this French film (Antoinette dans les Cevennes)  starring Call My Agent’s Laure Calamy (Noémie) whose character is largely unchanged from the voluptuous loyal mistress of that series. Here she is Antoinette Lapouge, having an affair with fellow teacher, Vladimir (Benjamin Lavernhe), whose daughter is in her class. All very French. Looking forward to a week alone together, their plans are thwarted by Vlad’s wife announcing they are going on a trekking holiday to the Cevennes, following Robert Louis Stevenson’s route, described in Travels with a Donkey and now an established tourist itinerary.

Wouldn’t it be fun to surprise him, thinks dippy Antoinette (groan), who signs up as a Bridget Jones-style hopeless singleton to undertake the same journey. Lumbered with the intractable Patrick as her own Modestine (RLS had similar problems with his steed) she sets off to seek her lover.

At first I was concerned that this was going to be one of those mannered French cringey films, a mixture of farce and overdone emotion. But after a rocky start and once Antoinette arrives in the gorgeous Cevennes region and develops a new passion for her Patrick, it transforms into a rather charming treatise on finding happiness. Calamy pulls off being ditzy and sincere in her emotions even when dealing with a lecture from Madame on the nature of adultery. Altogether a good evening’s lockdown film. Especially for fans of CMA.

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