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  • The story begins in an orphanage where the children are treated badly. One defiant young man among them, Paul, has a woman visitor, Celestine, who was summoned there. She is being asked to take him into custody, as the orphanage is soon to be shut down. She is not a relative, but there is some vague connection which we do not learn at this point in the story. She refuses the request, but agrees to see Paul before leaving. His defiance is manifested yet again and he is slapped by the man in charge and treated roughly. The impact on the woman is obvious, and the next scene we see them together on the train. It is obvious that Paul has mixed feelings about this change in his life.

    They arrive at a small house in a rustic setting. Celestine is a servant of a Count that lives nearby on a very large estate. She is very kind, but her husband, Borel, is rather brutish. As it happens Borel is also employed by the Count as a sort of gameskeeper. Paul has a hard time with Borel, but since it is summer vacation he is able to spend his time in the woods. He quickly falls in love with the surrounding nature, and also makes friends with a local poacher, Totoche. This presents an interesting conflict since Borel is constantly trying to catch the very clever Totoche in the act of poaching, but is never successful. Totoche teaches Paul many things, thus the title of the movie.

    A slight twist is introduced when we find out that Celestine (and many others) actually support and protect Totoche, but Borel is clueless. Paul continues to change in a nice way and grows closer to Celestine. The interactions that follow keep the story interesting, but we are not aware of what is yet to come. The remainder of the story is nicely paced and carefully woven as it develops toward an unexpected disclosure.

    The acting was very good, the scenery was splendid, the plot kept my interest throughout, and the ending -- though some may find it a bit too "cute" -- left me feeling quite satisfied. You must watch it in order to judge for yourself.
  • DAKA-FUNK24 December 2018
    Another fine example of the hidden European film industry.
  • dbdumonteil5 September 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    When I saw the title ,I thought it was a remake of the 1949 excellent eponymous movie by Jean -Paul Le Chanois ,but it is not so .

    But ,like it, it's also what the highbrows from the chic TV magazines call "old obsolete cinema"; this kind of cinema ,at a time when French comedies succumb to coarseness or feel good atmosphere and when the dramas want to be meaningful ,deep ,with complicated story-telling ,it is the kind of movie we are in need of .Desperately .....

    From Maurice Genevoix's "Raboliot" .......

    Paul ,an orphan, is taken in by Celestine and her husband , a game keeper who is hard on the poachers in the count's forests ;unlike that of Genevoix ,the count is a generous human man.But it's with poacher Totoche (François Cluzet,who recalls Michel Simon ) that Paul makes friends ;this grumpy man knows everything in the secret life of the forest and he has a lot of things to teach his young protégé ;hence the title ;all the scenes between them are excellent ,enhanced by a splendid cinematography ;it would have been interested to draw a parallel with the things Paul learns at school but the scenes with the teacher are few and far between: the swallows ,flying away to Africa ,is perhaps the only moment when the two worlds meet (with Du Bellay 's poem "Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse " as an adequate soundtrack);magic is everywhere in this hymn to nature .There' s even an ecological concern when the count's hateful heir wants to wall "his" property in. Frances Hogdson Burnett's "little lord Fauntleroy"

    Unfortunately , the last third ,in which Cluzet is almost absent , sinks into old hat melodrama;as soon as the count's evil son appears, all becomes so predictable that the movie becomes downright ridiculous .This umpteenth "from rags to riches "story,one has seen it so many times that one can wonder why the screenwriters should use so hackneyed tricks !Cardboard "uncle" Bertrand is so mean compared to the count's noble attitude ;it's a spate of finer feelings; the scene with the notary takes the biscuit !

    In a nutshell ,all that concerns Paul and Totoche (a true cordon bleu at that!) rings true and is endearing;all that concerns the count,the (genuine?) gypsies and the prodigal son is rubbish.
  • What a beautiful story and movie about people, life, and the connections between us and nature. The pictures, the characters, the story unfolding. I am so glad I saw this movie, beautiful at all levels.