It always takes a bit of an effort to overcome the mental block that arises when I’m faced with starting a list film that’s over two hours. Unless it’s really something spectacular, I’ve found there’s very rarely any warrant for it to be that long, especially the older the film is. That was the case today with The Baker’s Wife, a film by Marcel Pagnol, which stars the singularly named Raimu. Raimu seems to be the rich man’s Michel Simon, and as much as I enjoy Simon in whatever films I’ve seen him in, it wasn’t quite to that level with Raimu. Really, the whole film “wasn’t quite to that level”; the level being what I’ve come to expect as the minimum a film should be to qualify making a list of must see films. The Baker’s Wife fell short of that.
The story, like so many others of the old days, is simple: a baker comes to town, and the town falls in love with his bread. Unfortunately, the baker’s wife, however, falls in love with a shepherd of the village, and the baker is so distraught he stops baking bread. The villagers, now without their bread, resolve to get the baker’s wife back to him, so that he’ll bake them bread once more. The technicals in this one aren’t anything to really make a fuss over, so that leaves us with the story and the acting, and while both are pretty decent, they’re nothing that would really land this on a list of must see films either. Raimu, the baker in this one, was regarded as most likely the best French actor of his generation, but watching him here, it was a bit difficult to believe such a statement. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good, it was that his acting was so much of a caricature, and caricatures don’t lend themselves well to believability, or escaping the pit of hamhandedness. He might be a great character actor, but there are some films where character actors are just out of place, and this, for me, is one of those films.
First off, the subtitles for my copy of this weren’t all that good; probably half of the dialogue wasn’t translated, so I don’t know how much of the performances and the script I ended up missing. Hopefully you’ll have better luck. Still, from what I did manage to get, I wasn’t too impressed with this one. It was satisfactory, but nothing to get in a tiff about. Frankly, I could easily have gone the rest of my life without seeing this one and been just as well off. I suspect this is on here solely as representation for Raimu, and little else. If you ever find yourself faced with watching this one, you might want to give it a go, as long as you can last the full running time; otherwise, don’t feel bad if you end up not seeing it.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10