Beautifully made May 14, 2009
This film is part one of a beautifully constructed story -- Manon des Sources (Manon of the Spring) is part two -- and together they weave a perfectly plotted story of love, avarice, longing and revenge. The acting is superb, the pacing and rhythm are perfect, and the setting is beautiful, and crucial to the story.
Jean de Florette is the essential set-up for the second part of the story - don't skip it. It is a little weaker than Manon, mainly because the character of Jean is almost one-dimensional -- the Good Man, loving and generous, in tune with the earth. This is forgivable, because other characters are layered and complex, and because the story is in the web of relationships and the consequences of small acts over decades.
Water plays a key role in both films, and motivations -- love, patrimony, revenge, regret -- flow through every development. The ending of the second film feels inevitable, even though it surprises.
Together, these two films are on my top ten list.