My Donkey, My Lover and I

My Donkey, My Lover and I Movie Review

Opens July 22 — in Phoenix area  — exclusively at Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square

 

“My Donkey, My Lover and I” is a French-language movie about… well — about a lady who has to travel with a donkey in order to see her lover. The problem is, her lover is married, and she does not know anything about traveling with a donkey.

 

 

She is strong-willed, but she is no match for her donkey! But as someone tells her: “What matters is not the destination — but the path”. Along the mountainous hiking trails made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson, up in the peaks of the Cévennes — she learns which one is a sturdy friend, and which one is a true jackass…

 

A school teacher in Paris is having a torrid affair. Her name is Antoinette Lapouge (played by Laure Calamy), and her married lover is the father of one of her students.  Her lover is Vladimir Loubier (played by Benjamin Lavernhe) and he has loomed large in Antoinette’s life. She wants to go on vacation with Vlad, off to the beach. That is what he had planned with his wife and their young daughter. But plans have changed.

 

They are now going on a hiking adventure into the Cévennes, to follow the trail made by Stevenson in the French mountains. Antoinette is shocked and saddened that they have chosen not to go to the beach. She had a perfect way to get to where Vlad was going to be and get some more of his time.

 

But Antoinette is a positive thinker, perky and optimistic. How hard would it be to go to the mountains for a hiking vacation? And just by chance, run into her lover Vladimir? She is nothing if not flexible when it comes to hooking up with her lover man…

 

Antoinette, with her bright and cheery attitude, dives right into the hiking world. She has not worked up to the long and grueling daily walks. She had not gathered all sorts of appropriate gear for a multiday camping adventure. She really never has dealt with a pack animal before. But how hard can this be, really! Well — pretty darn hard! All of the nice clothes and pretty shoes that she has will be packed away. Everything will be carried around on the hike by an ornery donkey named Patrick.

 

Antoinette does not know how to control a donkey like Patrick. But then, who really does? A donkey has a mind of its own, and when Antoinette speaks gently to Patrick, and they walk side by side — then they make some progress. And some other times, Patrick will just refuse to do what he is told. So Antoinette begins to tell Patrick her entire troubled history with men who never quite meet her standards. Even to her current lover, Vlad — there is always some flaw that finds its way out and ruins the relationship.

 

Patrick makes no judgments about Antoinette’s taste in men. But he also does not keep track of the trail markers and the time. Soon it is late, and Antoinette realizes they are lost in the dark. But there is nothing like a nice spooky forest to settle down for a good nights sleep, right? But the next day, they get to the hostel where they can stay and be fed. Antoinette finds that her story of trip alone for the hike, just on the chance they she can meet up with her married lover — well, that story has made quite a sensation all along the trails!

 

While she is there resting, and letting Patrick get some rest, the Loubier family come up to that same hostel. It is Vladimir, and his wife Eléonore (played by Olivia Côte), along with their daughter — Antoinette’s student at the school. She is invited to hike with them starting early the next day. Antoinette is thrilled to be near her lover. Vlad takes her aside and say she must not come with them. This is a vacation for his family. Awkward outside love affairs could really complicate his ‘family time’…

 

Antoinette begins the daily hike with Loubier family. They have their own donkey, and the daughter gets to ride. But Eléonore falls back for a while to walk and talk with Antoinette. Eléonore knows the situation, and she lets Antoinette know that she knows. Antoinette is like “Whatever could you mean?”

 

But even with her forced smile – Antoinette realizes that the jig is up. Eléonore asks if she knows about the others. Antoinette is taken aback, what was that about ‘others’? If Validimir is two-timing his wife, could he also be two-timing Antoinette?

 

The drawback to having a married lover is that they do not really belong to you. And in this case, there is also no loyalty to you. At least Antoinette has Patrick! Even if he is a simple donkey, at least he would not cheat on her, or tell her lies, or lead her on to think things that are not true. Patrick might be stubborn, he might have a very slow meandering way that he walks – but he does not talk back. Well, once in a while he lets out a pretty loud bray!

 

“My Donkey, My Lover and I” is an unusually enjoyable romp of a story that goes down as easy as a delicious French pastry. The wonderful performance of Laure Calamy (as Antoinette) is endearing and charming. But also the donkey that plays Patrick is a star in his own right! On top of that, the beautiful scenes of French countryside are captured in such a magnificent and appealing way, it a great movie just to look at.

 

“My Donkey, My Lover and I” might scare you off because of the French language and subtitles. But you don’t need to be a ‘jackass’. You can be ‘bray-ve’ and venture out to see this quirky little gem!

 

Opens July 22 — in Phoenix area  — exclusively at Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square

 

My Donkey, My Lover and I

Written and Directed by: Caroline Vignal
Based on “Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes” by: Robert Louis Stevenson
Starring: Laure Calamy, Benjamin Lavernhe, Olivia Côte
Cinematography: Simon Beaufils
Edited by: Annette Dutertre
Distributed by: Diaphana Films
Release date: July 22, 2022
Length: 97 minutes
MPAA rating: (not rated)
Language: French (with English subtitles)
Genre: Comedy

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Rating

tmc.io contributor: JMcNaughton tmc

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