Review by Camden Ferrell
My Donkey, My Lover, & I is a French comedy-drama movie that was an official selection at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. The film is loosely inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. This is a film that is relentlessly charming and easy-going thanks to a strong script and a fantastic leading performance from Laure Calamy.
Antoinette is a primary school teacher who is excited to go on vacation with the married man with whom she is having an affair. However, the plans fall apart when his wife makes surprise plans for their family to go to a mountainous park for a hiking trip. Antoinette impulsively follows the family on their trip where she is out of her element and must make new friends with other travelers and learn to get along with her donkey hiking companion. This is a cute premise for a movie that offers up plenty of opportunity for its protagonist to soul-search and get into funny predicaments.
This movie was written and directed by Caroline Vignal, and her script is quaint yet enjoyable. It’s not grandiose in spectacle or drama, and it’s best that it’s not. It’s sweet and simple and is able to maintain attention without losing touch with what makes it charismatic in the first place. There are some great interactions between characters, and its story feels very natural and unforced, and it allows this piece to feel authentic more than anything.
A lot of the charm and appeal from this movie can also be attributed to its leading performance. Laure Calamy leads the film as Antoinette, and she is able to work really well with all of the film’s elements. She has great chemistry with the ensemble of offbeat characters, and she also has great chemistry with her donkey, and she can carry a solo scene as well. It’s not groundbreaking or astonishing, but it’s great for what it is, and she may be the secret ingredient for why this movie works so well.
Even if it doesn’t try and go above and beyond in the realm of film, one can’t help but be absolutely charmed by the sincerity and wholesome things happening on screen. It’s emotional, silly, and not demanding on the viewer. There are some great messages and themes that many people will relate to, and it has such a harmless story and intent that it’s hard to feel anything but joy towards. It is also a relatively short movie that ends before it can ever overstay its welcome.
My Donkey, My Lover, & I is a fun French comedy-drama that will appeal to many demographics of people thanks to its universal ideas and delightful leading performance. There’s physical humor, verbal humor, and plenty of personal exploration that might speak to a large number of viewers. While there’s nothing I can commend as being utterly amazing, I have nothing negative to say about such a cute and adorable movie.
My Donkey, My Lover, & I is in theaters July 22.