Multiple workers come in and out of a lavish bedroom as a man gets ready for the day without having to lift a finger. He sets off gallantly riding on a horse through the lush green towards a large estate. As he goes to propose to a beautiful and rich woman, he holds all the makings of a hero.
Yet, we soon learn, he is anything but that.
This man is Captain Charles Neuville (Jean Dujardin), the titular character of Return of the Hero (Le Retour Du Héros). In the beginning, Neuville goes to fight in the war, only to return to town, filthy and unrefined. He discovers that the town believes he has died as a war hero. This is thanks to Elisabeth (Mélanie Laurent), the sister of Pauline (Noémie Merlant) who was the woman to whom he had been engaged. Instead of leaving town, Neuville plays into the charade manufactured by Elisabeth. A begrudging alliance is formed between the two to hide each other’s lies. Yet, this alliance doesn’t stop Elisabeth from continuously attempting (and failing) to expose the captain.
This is a story where each character seems to have a hidden side. Elisabeth is not as calm or moral as she tries to come across, Pauline is not the innocent daughter, the Captain is not courageous, and Nicolas (Christophe Montenez) is not just Pauline’s weak, monotonous husband.
OVID.tv presents a lighthearted film with the beauty of France as the backdrop.
While Return of The Hero is not a traditional period drama, the trappings of the French aristocracy provide a lush background for the hijinks of Elisabeth and Neuville. The scenes are always kept bright and light—the sun always shining down, and the music lighthearted and comical. The costumes and outdoor shots are ever vibrant. Each shot of the manor is filled with flowers, vibrant wallpaper, candles, paintings, and other grandeur a wealthy house at the time may have had.
Apart from the manor, we see the beauty of the French town when Elisabeth stumbles upon Neuville when he first returns. We follow her as she follows Neuville through this picturesque town. Horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, women in bonnets and men in top hats, the chattering of residents buying produce, and the sounds of chickens clucking fill the screen. The bright scenery makes every scene a delight, at least for this writer.
Return of The Hero is a comedy through the lens of a period piece. Moments that might easily be missed are what made this writer laugh the most. In one such moment, as the characters are barricading the door with furniture, Elisabeth’s mother, instead of worrying about the attack, says, “Be careful it’s dusty don’t get dirty.”
Elisabeth describes the film perfectly. Return of The Hero is “The story of a man who thought lies would prevail.” It is a quick, lighthearted watch. Those who enjoy the setting of period pieces will likely find this film enjoyable, but those who may not enjoy reading subtitles should pass on this film.
Length 90 Minutes
Director: Laurent Tirard
Captain Neuville: Jean Dujardin
Elisabeth: Mélanie Laurent
Pauline: Noémie Merlant
Nicolas: Christophe Montenez
Mdme Beauregard: Evelyne Buyle
Monsieur Beauregard: Christian Bujeau
To view the film, visit OVID.tv page for Return of The Hero
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author:
Lisa Ryou is from a suburb of Chicago. Having lived near Chicago her whole life, she is no stranger to the creative scene of the city. She is currently studying History, Museum Studies, and Art at the University of Michigan. She has been involved in fine arts her whole life and tries to use her works, both art and writing, as a way to give voice to BIPOC. When she is not at school, you can find her baking, reading, painting, or taking photos.