a literary treasure hunt, between Paris and Finistère


Adapting a novel by David Foenkinos, Rémi Bezançon tries his hand, with The Mystery Henri Pick, to a bittersweet chronicle around the world of French publishing, or, to be more precise, Parisian. He has fun intermingling three registers: the sociological chronicle, the sentimental comedy, the thriller.

We know the author of My life in the air (2005) et du First day of the rest of your life (2008) for his sense of fantasy and lightness applied to late post-adolescents. After a more laborious test in the genre (Our futures, 2015), he seems to want to break the moorings and presents his first film of maturity.

Read also: “My life in the air”: a thirty-something grappling with the turbulences of life

The story is as follows. A young editor with long teeth (Alice Isaaz), in search of a juicy shot, discovers in Brittany a library devoted to manuscripts refused by publishers. She finds a nugget there, The Last Hours of a love story, written in the greatest secrecy by a local pizza chef, Henri Pick, who has since died and been buried. She decides to publish it, supporting the operation with a marketing plan (the provincial proletarian giving a lesson in literary genius to licensed authors) which goes beyond her expectations. The book is a popular success.

An extravagant investigation

There, a grain of sand enters the machine. His name is Jean-Michel Rouche (Fabrice Luchini) and performs on television the enviable function of literary critic and successful host. While he receives the widow of the writer on his tray, a modest woman stunned by the success of the book, is he not suddenly throwing a paving stone into the pond, terrifying the widow in passing: what if this Henri Pick novel was a fake? So he feels it, and expresses it with all the fibers of his critical being, at the risk of damaging the beautiful popular storytelling.

It takes him badly. The keeper of going in circles, notwithstanding his small media glory, finds himself overnight deprived of his wife and his job. Overwhelmed, Rouche launches, alone, in an extravagant investigation, intended to prove the suspected deception.

Read also: “The First Day of the rest of your life”: twelve years, five days, one family

Between the capital and Finistère, she leads him on false tracks in real discoveries, to the crossing of characters as diverse as Joséphine (Camille Cottin), the recently divorced girl and right in her boots by Henri Pick, or Frédéric (Bastien Bouillon) , cautious young writer, author of the bide The bathtub, and who is in the process of parting with the happy editor of this literary coup.

All this can be seen without displeasure, on the wings of a vaporous machinery such as Rémi Bezançon cherishes them, according to a plot which, as it becomes silted, begins to gently purr.

The Mystery Henri Pick, film by Rémi Bezançon. With Fabrice Luchini, Camille Cottin, Alice Isaaz (Fr., 2019, 100 min). Cinema + Emotion.