Sometimes you are surprised and sometimes you are lucky enough to actually pull a rabbit out of a hat – or find a fine movie by accident. Today I watched a film that before seeing it, I had no knowledge of it, knew neither the lead actor nor actress, had never heard of the director, and basically, decided to view it because of the film’s poster.
Such was my decision to have a look at French director Stephane Brize’s Mademoiselle Chambon. Okay I knew straightaway that this was a French film. The title, Mademoiselle Chambon, was my clue. But that’s all I knew besides the fact that a solo woman on a train station platform is always intriguing. Having said that much, now let’s set the film up for you.
Jean is a mason. He builds houses. He can install windows, break up concrete with a pneumatic drill, lay bricks, or even take down a wall with a sledge hammer. He is a mason and the son of a mason. He’s proud of his work. He has a wife and a 7 year old son. When we first meet them they’re off for a picnic, and helping the son with his grammar studies. But they hit an impasse when the grammar lesson provides a sample sentence…
The maintenance department prepares a report.
…and then asks, what is the direct object in that sentence. Jean and his wife are stumped. They have no clue. But they work through it with such questions as ‘Who’ and ‘what’ as the grammar lesson instructs. They are simple people living in provincial France. A loving family. We should all be so lucky.
On an afternoon when Jean is picking up his son at the school, he runs into the school teacher, the titular Mademoiselle Veronique Chambon. She asks if he would care to help her out by speaking to the class about his work. Another father had to cancel. She tells him it is a few days off, and he can prepare and she’ll prepare the class.