Jean de Florette

1986 | Drama | 120 minutes | French with English subtitles

Info

Jean de Florette is the first of a two-part series adapted from a novel by Marcel Pagnol. The follow up film is Manon of the Springs (also available on Amazon). Jean de Florette, a hunchbacked tax collector living in the city, inherits a piece of land in a small town in Provence, France. He arrives in Provence with his wife Aimee and daughter Manon. His intention is to develop this land into a vegetable farm and to raise rabbits. What Jean doesn’t know is that his land possesses a valuable spring that produces abundant water. His nearby neighbors, the wily Papet and his slow-witted nephew Ugolin, covet Jean’s land. They need the water. Their first move is to cap the spring so, maybe, Jean will not know of its existence. Despite hardships running the farm, Jean refuses to sell. Papet and Ugolin do everything to make Jean’s life miserable.  He’s still not selling. Tragically, Jean dies in an accident. Papet and Ugolin sense an opportunity. Might they now have a better chance convincing  Jean’s wife and daughter to sell? Who knows?

Cast
Yves Montand (Papet) / Daniel Auteuil (Ugolin) / Gerard Depardieu (Jean de Florette) / Elisabeth Depardieu (Aimee) / Ernestine Mazurowna (Manon)  
Why Stream This Film?
 With apparent disregard for human decency, the film searingly depicts how greed can drive ordinary men to do bad things. The film does possess the lightheartedness of the Pagnol novel. But it can also wrench your heart at how cruel people can be when they covet something  valuable owned by a neighbor. Isn’t this a violation of one of the Ten Commandments?
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 96%
Accolades
  • Cesar Awards: Winner, Best Film; Best Actor (Daniel Auteuil); Best Director (Claude Berri)
  • BAFTA Awards: Winner, Best Film; Best Actor (Gerard Depardieu); Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Daniel Auteuil)
  • London Critics Circle Film Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film
  • National Board of Review, USA: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film

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Berri’s sympathetic work with his small cast, and his observance of Pagnol’s story and dialog are key factors in the film’s robust dramatic appeal. Berri  directed the film with tact and feeling. The lensing by Bruno Nuytten is luminous.

VARIETY Staff

I can’t recall ever having walked out of a movie theater with the same mixture of satisfaction and anticipation as I did when I left the screening of JEAN de FLORETTE.  The characters are rich without being quaint and the landscapes are magnificent through the seasons. Director Berri’s control remains firm. JEAN de FLORETTE has the delicacy of something freshly observed.
Vincent Canby

The New York Times

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