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The Well Digger’s Daughter

March 7, 2013

The Well Digger’s Daughter (2012)
Director: Daniel Auteuil
Actors: Daniel Auteuil, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Kad Merad

Well Digger's Daughter







Synopsis: An angelic young daughter (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) of a well digger (Daniel Auteuil) gets involved with the son of a well-to-do shop-owner in rural France on the cusp of WW2. She falls pregnant, but suffers a double-blow when the shop-owner’s son disappears during the war and his family reject her, and even her own father refuses to acknowledge her. Eventually, the well digger has a change of heart about his daughter and grandson, and other events occur to ensure both families are eventually united.

Review: Daniel Auteuil returns to the site of one of his most famous cinematic achivements – the work of Marcel Pagnol and the pastoral narratives of the French South (as seen in Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources) – for a thoroughly well-told, if ultimately fairly slight, tale of family honour lost and regained in a France around the time of the Second World War.

Those familiar with Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources will immediately recognise the beautifully-rendered rural French landscape in the bloom of summer (all idyllic farmland, meadows and gentle streams), and against that timeless backdrop we have another primal story of human folly. Auteuil as director does a commendable job in honouring the aesthetic beauty of this ‘genre’ with not only documenting the gorgeous French countryside, but in paying great detail to the period features (the costumes and antique cars are fantastic), and in finding a suitably photogenic actress – Astrid Bergès-Frisbey – to play the eponymous well digger’s daughter.

As for the narrative itself, I think it works far better as light farce/comedy than it does as a romance. There isn’t really enough time for the ‘affair’ between the well digger’s daughter and the shopkeeper’s son to resonate at the beginning, but the moments thereafter where the pomposity of French society is exposed – particularly the character of the well digger himself, played by Daniel Auteuil, who wants to reject his daughter and ‘bastard’ grandson, before having them back and taking them as his own – is highly enjoyable. (March 2013)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rosalie Guevara permalink
    March 9, 2013 7:00 am

    I’ve saw this movie a couple months ago…. Her dad reminded me of my dad, I could imagine my dad acting the same way as he did…. I really enjoy the landscape and beautiful scenery, specially when they went on the drive for the first time. The one thing that I didn’t like and I thought it could have been elaborated it a little bit more was their romance at the beginning & towards the end. Also, when the son came back home, I thought it was so abrupt. He was suddenly just there without much explanation, I remember thinking she was dreaming the part when she went down the stairs. Overall I did enjoy the movie….I’m going to watch Swimming Pool this weekend and let you know my thoughts. 🙂


    *Rosalie Guevara* Tel.: 818.632.9043 E-mail:


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