Criticism | My Vacation with Patrick – Fun Self-Discovery Adventure in the South of France

Selected at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Mes vacances avec Patrick (Antoinette in the Cévennes) is a tasty comedy inspired by the book Voyages avec une Beraba dans les Cévennes (“Voyage avec un donkey through the Cévennes”), by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1789. The Scottish author is known worldwide for the titles The Treasure Island (1882) and The Doctor and the Monster (1886). The journey made in the 17th century work has become a tourist attraction in France and a captivating journey in the hands of filmmaker Caroline Vignal.

Instead of a man and a donkey crossing the mountains of south-central France in search of a passion, Vignal’s fun adaptation takes Professor Antoinette (Laure Calamy), along with Patrick, through hills to surprise his mistress Vladimir (Benjamin Lavernhe). The loved one, however, spends the holidays in the region with his wife Eléonore (Olivia Côte) and his daughter Alice (Louise Vidal), who is also a pupil of Antoinette.

On the other hand, the protagonist escapes the stereotype of “the other”, she is presented as a passionate, romantic, effusive and even slightly innocent woman when she tells her story to other travelers without embarrassment and without resentment of the judgments of others. . When planning her trip to the Cevennes, she dreams of romantic nights alongside her passion, but her days are filled with long walks alongside the awesome donkey Patrick, as in the book.

With no trail experience, Antoinette takes the time to get along with her traveling companion, but as the hours, days, they begin to complement each other along the way. Antoniette’s love story becomes a fable among groups of travelers and the stops during the pilgrimage are moments of playful pleasures. With supporting characters as inspired as the protagonist, the narrative takes on new contours at each point of rest of the pilgrims.

Winner of the César for best actress 2021 for this film, Laure Calamy dedicates herself as a hilarious and irreverent actress, in fact it is her first time as a protagonist. Known to the public by the character Noémie, from the series Dez por Cento (all four seasons are available on Netflix), the actress proves her charisma for comedy and her excited performance, perfect as the heroine of this adventure. Although the comic tone predominates in the narrative, My Vacation with Patrick is a path of self-knowledge and discovery of self-love.

Day after day, we await the meeting of lovers, that is to say of “the other” with the family of Vladimir. Contrary to the clashes and disappointments of American canned and Brazilian soap operas, Caroline Vignal is sure to solve the facts and, of course, the moment explores the beauty of the countryside around its actors. In other words, My Vacation with Patrick is introspective work with a starting and ending point. In her journey, Antoniette is no longer the same person who started the journey and her goals are also transformed.

Participating in the Varilux French Film Festival 2020, the film manages to enchant, amuse and yet establish a strong bond between the protagonist and his donkey companion. At first glance, the plot around an extramarital romantic surprise may seem childish, but already in the first scene, when Antoniette presents a musical number with her students, we understand that she is an atypical character.

Antoinette is a courageous woman who embarks on a solitary journey in search of her object of desire, but finds herself in a nostalgia. My vacation with Patrick goes from a burlesque mood to visceral emotions without missing a beat or stumbling. Ultimately, Caroline Vignal’s work indicates that when a journey ends, right after, another road begins to be traveled.

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My vacation with Patrick begins on May 6, 2021 in Brazilian theaters.

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