DVD Review: The Well-Digger’s Daughter

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Daniel Auteuil | CAST: Daniel Auteuil, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Kad Merad, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Sabene Azema
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 1/1/2013 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $34.95
SPECS: NR | 105 min. | Foreign language romance | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | French with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


The Well-Digger’s Daughter, a pastoral romance set during the early days of WWII, marks the directorial debut of French film star Daniel Auteuil. It’s an artistic homecoming of sorts, as the 2011 film is a remake of a 1944 work by Marcel Pagnol, the filmmaker and novelist who penned the source material for the films in which Auteuil achieved early fame as an actor: Manon of the Spring and Jean de Florette, both from 1986.

The Well-Digger's Daughter movie scene

Astrid Bergès-Frisbey is The Well-Digger's Daughter.

The provencal Pagnol is best known for his “Marseilles Trilogy” (which was condensed and remade in America as 1961’s Fanny). While The Well-Digger’s Daughter takes place in the countryside, its story follows a similar line to its more famous city cousin: A young woman, Patricia (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) is literally swept off her feet by a handsome young man and faces becoming a “lost girl” or marrying a kindly family friend she does no love.

As the well-digger with, actually, six daughters, leading player Auteuil is superb as a man torn between love and maintaining his family’s reputation. Indeed, all the performances avoid stereotype and find the underlying humanity which has made Pagnol’s stories perennials.

As the film’s director (and screenwriter), Auteuil never stands back and judges the social code that motivates the characters, instead drawing us into their plight with truly moving effect. For these people, close to the Earth, foibles be forgiven and community is a balm for all wounds.

Speaking of the Earth, the exquisite cinematography by Jean-Francois Robin is a visual love poem to the countryside of Southern France.


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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.