8 August 2002 | briankistler
So Near & Dear To My Heart
I would not give this film a lukewarm review at all (as some of the other reviews that I have read seem to have done). I would not try to put it in a box that it does not belong in, either. The truth of the matter is, I LOVED "French Postcards" exactly the way it was!! This was a highly entertaining and WONDERFUL story! I felt really good after watching it..........I watched it twice. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I felt that a lot of the main characters were very well drawn and believable. The acting was, by and large, superb! My favorite story within this story would have to be the one with Alex (the blond-haired American student and pianist) and Madame Tessier (the French director of the institute, where the American exchange students were enrolled). I especially like the very beautiful and adorable Mme. Tessier, played by Marie-France Pisier. It wasn't just that she was totally gorgeous as a "somewhat older woman" (Alex was a junior in college; Mme. Tessier was probably in her mid 30s). It was very admirable how passionate she was about her study abroad program. She appeared to be extremely devoted to her job.........and very professional. Toward the end of the movie she talked about her plan to open up schools all over France........and she was very excited about it.
I also liked that scene when she and Alex's girlfriend got into a cat fight over whose man Alex really was..........but even then, she still carried that off with a lot of class. She did not scream or make a scene. She seemed to hold her own, toe to toe, with Alex's old girlfriend with dignity. Among other things, she told her (in a very relaxed voice):
"You are a twenty-year-old school girl..........You don't know anything about love!"
If you have not yet seen the movie, you should know that Mme. Tessier certainly made Alex pay his dues! He worked extremely hard to earn the right to show his affections for her. She was really quite cold, in the beginning, and did try to dissuade him...........even lied to him that she did not like a piano song that he wrote for her (about Paris). Eventually she took the bait (and probably amazed Alex in the process). The story does paint Mme. Tessier as a very dedicated and serious, professional, French woman: a woman, who one day just had a weakness and caved............and allowed herself to become vulnerable in the arms, and in the heart, of a twenty-something American "stud". Though for many people it might be disturbing, that her involvement with him is adulterous (her husband is her business partner at the institute), in many ways it is a very sweet romance. There are actually quite a few things that are sweet (or delightful) about this movie (including a shot of the beautiful Seine river at sunset).
I saw this movie on HBO in December 1980------just weeks before I was slated to go off to Spain as an American college student (I spent my spring semester in Sevilla, Spain). Though this movie was about a very different country, it was still about a European country. It was extremely exciting for me to watch two hours of anecdotes, concerning experiences that I was very soon to be having (at least some of them, anyway; I did not try to steal away a program director's wife!)! Watching this film was even more delightful for me, since this was to be my first trip to Europe!
I am sure that I would have enjoyed this movie, almost as much, even if I had not studied abroad. On a personal note, I never made it to France, during my stay in Spain. It would be 17+ years later, before I trod on many of the same grounds that Alex, Joel, and Melanie trod (in "French Postcards"). I am pleased to say that my 1998 trip to France was everything that I thought it would be! The people were totally wonderful and delightful..........and I just loved them! More importantly, I loved France (just as I loved Mme. Tessier and "French Postcards", as a whole)!