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Parlez-moi de la pluie - Notre Critique

By Patricia Connell




Agathe Villanova
Agathe Villanova


The duo Bacri-Jaoui has once again succeeded in giving us something to talk about. I briefly saw them at Claridges a few weeks ago when they came to present their new film to the British Media. Jean-Pierre and I had previously met two years earlier when he was promoting ‘Look at me’, a film in which he played a well-known author with an enormous ego and who does not like anyone but himself. His daughter, an overweight girl (Josianne Balasko’s daughter in real life) who loves opera and who wants to become a diva, is made to feel unloved by her father who has little or no time for her. Agnes plays her teacher and although she has no time for her either, she starts making time for her when she discovers who her father is. Their new film is miles away from that, although it is constructed using a similar pattern, this familiar pattern which has become their trade mark.  Once again, they have this knack  at looking at the simplest of things and understand what make people tick. This time, they chose to tell us the story of the Villanova family which has settled back in France after the Algerian war. Not only do they come with all their possessions but also their 17-year old Algerian housekeeper, Mamouna, who was working for them there at the time. Over the years, the housekeeper’s family and the Villanova family become completely intertwined. They have all of course an inheritance they cannot get away from: that of colonisers and colonised people.  

Jamel-Bacri Filming
Karim (Jamel Debbouze), Mamouna’s son and his friend, Michel Ronsard (Jean-Pierre Bacri) decides to make a documentary about Agathe Villanova (Agnes Jaoui), a feminist who has recently entered the political scene. She returns to her childhood home in the South of France where Florence her sister lives with her husband and family. She wants to help her sort out their mother’s affairs following her death a year earlier.

Agathe doesn’t like the region but for gender balance, she has been sent there to represent her party at the next elections.
It’s August. It’s raining. It’s not normal. But then nothing is normal.

The film is both about the condition of women, as well as that of immigrants and their descendants. It is also about the way they are treated and how difficult their integration can be in France. It is about ‘everyday humiliation’.

If you expect to see the funny side of Jamel, think again. He shows in this film that he can also play much more serious parts. We had briefly seen him in a different light in Days of Glory for which he won a Cesar with his co-actors and this film confirms his ability to not only be a funny guy but also be a truly moving actor. In real life, Jamel is a friend of Jean-Pierre and Agnes. He had always wanted to take part in one of their films and this role seemed to be written just for him.




Mamouna, who is probably the most touching character in the film because she rings so true, is the only non-professional. Jean-Pierre and Agnes met her for the first time 10 years ago when they were renting a holiday house in the South and she was the housekeeper. The film partly tells her story and she plays herself. To learn her part, Mamouna, who can’t read, had to listen to a tape that Agnes had pre-recorded. But she managed beautifully. Although she thinks that the experience brought her a lot, she does not see herself in more movies.


Agnes is on a quest. She wants to change the way people think about women and the way they see themselves. She strongly believes that their portrayal in ‘contes de fees’ is the reason why they are perceived the way they are. By re-writing the old stories and changing their parts, this could transform our perception and the manner in which the world looks at women. Watch out for their next film. It is bound to be entertaining and light hearted.



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