Rating : ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Categorisation: Comedy mystery – feature film
Availability: TVNZ on demand, SBS, Prime TV, Apple TV – French with English subtitles
Storyline: Budding novelist, Frederic Koska has his new book disregarded by Jean-Michel Rouche, a ruthless and obnoxious critic whose televised book club can make or break a new author’s career. Defeated and demoralised, he retreats to rural Brittany with his girlfriend Daphne Despero, a young and ambitious French publisher. At a local bibliotheque near her father’s home Daphne finds a manuscript, one of many that languish in the ‘Library of Rejected Manuscripts’. The author, Henri Pick, was the local pizza chef before he died two years previously. Immediately engaged by the story and confident of the its wider appeal, Daphne convinces her publishing house to publish the novel posthumously and soon it becomes a critically acclaimed best-seller. Pick’s family are supportive until Jean-Michel Rouche casts doubt upon the authorship of the novel, causing outrage across the book world and distress to the family. Rouche’s determined investigation into the novel’s authorship then unsettles the lives of everyone involved, including Jean-Michel himself.
Film-craft: Directed by Rémi Bezançon The Mystery of Henri Pick is a well paced film with a confident plot and a witty screenplay. The cinematography by Antoine Monod is terrific with lovely scenes of rural Brittany. It is a quality production.
Cast: The cast is excellent in this film and everyone does well. Fabrice Luchini is perfect in the role of the pompous literary critic Jean-Michel, and Camille Cottin is splendid as Josephine, Henri Pick’s daughter. Their intellectual sparring creates much of the fun and entertainment in the film and both are exceptional actors. Alicia Isaaz as Daphne and Bastien Bouillon as her literary boyfriend are also terrific as they attempt to manage the chaos around Jean-Michel, and within their own relationship as tensions rise.
Personal Comments: The film is based on the sure-footed 2016 novel Le Mystère Henri Pick by David Foekinos. It captures brilliantly the book’s delightful playfulnesses and the richness of the lively French publishing culture. The mystery of the novel’s authorship sits at the heart of the plot which will appeal to anyone who enjoys a lighthearted literary adventure.