Caroline Vignal’s Antoinette dans les Cévennes (My Donkey, My Lover, and I) is a mid-life coming-of-age comedy starring the great Laure Calamy.
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We first meet Antoinette (Laure Calamy) in her classroom, where she has her elementary school students, counting, heads down on their desks, while she changes into a silver dress at the back of the class. It’s for a class concert where she starts belting out a tune with such fervor that she starts to eclipse her dressed-in-black students as the centre of attention. It’s also the first sign that Antoinette falls somewhere on the bananas scale from zero to Sibyl (who, of course, is 100% bananas), and that the film is going to be a gentle comedy slightly at the expense of Antoinette’s shenanigans.
Soon after the concert, Antoinette is making out with the married father of one of her students, and finding out that their romantic getaway is being cancelled. He’s going on vacation to the Cévennes with his wife and daughter. So she decides she’ll take the same vacation, a six-day hike with a donkey, without telling him, without training, and hoping that she’ll just happen to run into him. When she arrives at her hostel, she very quickly gets needled into revealing the story of her trip to all of the other hikers, so her reputation precedes her at every destination along the hike.
Following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson, despite no hiking experience, and with an uncooperative donkey named Patrick, Antoinette begins the gorgeous trek through the Cévennes and a fool’s errand to find her unworthy boyfriend. Caroline Vignal’s Antoinette dans les Cévennes (My Donkey, My Lover, and I) unsurprisingly proves to be more about the journey than the destination, as Antoinette finds a sense of independence and accomplishment through her trek and bond with Patrick. It’s a showcase role for Calamy, who was so good as Sibyl’s sister in Sibyl and the best friend in In Bed with Victoria, though best known in France as the lead of Call My Agent. For most of the film, it’s just Calamy, the donkey, and the landscape, and it’s zany fun watching her find her footing, talk to Patrick, and eventually, climb out of the bad situation she was in.
Antoinette dans les Cévennes is available to stream across Canada for 48 hours starting November 20. Tickets are available here.
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