This warm and ultimately touching French drama features an unusual relationship at its center as it examines the gulf between city and countryside. Sandrine (Seigner) leaves her computer job in Paris to train as a farmer, ultimately buying a remote goat farm from the crusty old widower Adrien (Serrault), who stays on as a tenant for a year. He mistrusts her completely; how can a single young woman run a farm? Her money-spinning innovations don’t impress him either, but then he begins to notice that she has a real heart for the place–and a tenacious, earthy toughness he underestimated. But his pride still won’t let him open up to her.
The film’s original title (which translates as One Swallow Makes Spring) is a play on the saying, “One swallow does not a summer make.” And against all appearances, this is not a fish-out-of-water tale; Sandrine is more than up to the challenge. The slow thawing of her friendship with Adrien is what makes this film worth watching–a gentle journey of discovery, both of themselves and of those around them. This requires excellent acting from the fine Seigner and the veteran Serrault, who work together wonderfully and very subtly. And they’re surrounded by a lovely visual setting, captured with fairy-tale touches in both summer and winter, tinged with extremely gritty reality. The contrasts between the country and city are a bit more obvious and heavy-handed. But it’s in the characters that the film works beautifully, right up to the clever and tender final sequence.