A French Romantic Comedy! I had to work to convince The Boy and The Flower that French were actually famous for romcoms, not just angsty existential films chock full of ennui. Though not so much romcoms as sex farces, which are sort of like romcoms, except that everyone has sex with everyone else, but it never seems to matter in the end.
The Old Man used to say “sophisticated” was a word meaning “sexually deviant”, which I always think about when I hear someone call the French sophisticated.
So, imagine my delight when A Girl on a Bicycle—while very French and containing a number of amusing sex scenes—turns out to be a sweet, funny, romantic film that I didn’t regret taking The Flower to. (It’s also mostly in English!)
Absolutely rife with European stereotypes. Heh.
Paolo, an Italian bus driver living in Paris, loves Greta, a German stewardess, and so proposes to marry her. (Paolo is an awesome tour bus driver: He describes Paris in terms of all of its monuments—which are all just pale imitations of the ones in Italy, natch.) He’s as happy as a clam when she accepts—despite her stern and ordered nature, she seems to understand and appreciate his Italian-ness—until he’s stopped at traffic light and the titular girl on a bicycle rolls up beside him.
And what a girl!
He becomes obsessed, especially when it happens again and again. His English friend Derek—constantly pissed off that despite years of studying French, no one in Paris will deign to talk to him, except in English—gives him a sensible plan: Meet the girl on the bicycle. That’ll cure him, because no woman could possibly live up to this idealization he has of her.
Of course, things don’t go as expected, and not just for the characters in the movie, but for me. I know how these French farces usually play out and, well, this didn’t. So refreshing.
Instead we get a comedy where a sudden, unexpected humanity from the main character, puts him in an increasingly precarious position.
And it’s funny!
Beautiful cast, though not anybody I knew (except Paddy Considine, who played the English bloke). I had a slight problem in that I didn’t think the French girl was more beautiful than the German girl, especially, but that’s not really the point.
The point, as Derek says, is: There’s always gonna be a girl on a bicycle. How are you going to handle it?
This film has a whopping 8% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, and 78% from viewers. Color me unsurprised.