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Bergés-Frisbey gallivants across the lush French countryside.

The Dinner : Warm Hazelnut Crusted Chévre at Volunteer Park Café and Marketplace (501 17th Avenue East)

The

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The Well Digger's Daughter Sugarcoats Everything, Even Leafy Greens

Screen shot 2012-07-25 at 11.21.10 PM.png
Bergés-Frisbey gallivants across the lush French countryside.

The Dinner: Warm Hazelnut Crusted Chévre at Volunteer Park Café and Marketplace (501 17th Avenue East)

The Movie: The Well Digger's Daughter at Varsity Theater (4329 University Way)

The Screenplate: French film The Well Digger's Daughter follows Patricia Amoretti (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey), the prim and prudish 18-year-old daughter of Pascal Amoretti (director Daniel Auteuil). Pascal adores his eldest daughter to an almost religious degree, bragging about his "princess" with such fervor she might as well have been the baby Jesus. When the suave Jacques Mazel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) gives Patricia a ride home on his motorcycle, she falls madly in love with him. In a cruel trick of fate, saint-like Patricia compromises her coveted virtue the night before Jacques is called unexpectedly to serve in World War II. To Patricia's deep dismay, Jacques leaves her not only with a broken heart, but also with a bun in the oven. Once Patricia and her illegitimate fetus are rejected by Jacques's stoic father and bitch-of-a-mother (painfully overacted by Sabine Azéma), Pascal is forced to choose between honor and love for his "hussy" daughter.

Here we find the film's key conundrum: is it better to love or to settle for reputability? Unfortunately, The Well Digger's Daughter takes forever to make up its mind on the subject.

A likeable and comic Pascal shuffles sporadically between supporting his daughter and protecting his ego, while the Mazels' feelings for their bastard grandson flip-flop obnoxiously between adoration and rejection. The film itself flourishes as a promising drama lamenting womankind's feeble position in society until it is abruptly debunked with a deus ex machina that allows its characters to neither settle nor love. After an hour and a half of indecision, the film's saccharine conclusion gives everyone an easy way out.

Despite the sap, the film's strength is in its affectionate simplicity and wholesomeness. The endearing story focuses on the love between a parent and child rather than the nitty-gritty details of Patricia's transformation into a woman scorned.

But the true star of The Well Digger's Daughter is its setting. Any lag in plot is overshadowed by the breathtaking countryside, architecture and dress of Salon, France. The film is utterly picturesque, featuring shot after panoramic shot of sprawling pastures and dramatically shaded dirt roads that make Seattle look like Detroit.

Exuding the charm and aesthetic of rural France as well as the film's attractive innocence, Volunteer Park Café and Marketplace is the perfect fit for such a quaint night out at the movies. Housed in a historic building that used to be the neighborhood's grocery and meat market, Volunteer Park Café is just about the homiest restaurant in the city with food as fresh and light as France's great outdoors.

Like The Well Digger's Daughter, the Warm Hazelnut Crusted Chévre salad makes enthusiastic use of greenery and sugar as its primary elements, but to greater effect. With its tangy sweetness in the strawberries and pomegranate vinaigrette atop the savory bits, a diner can deftly toe that fine line between gooey and glazed. Although sweet so often overpowers its fellow taste buds, a good stir of the fruity dressing will achieve a balanced flavor that really hits the spot.

As the on screen decision-making in The Well Digger's Daughter flounders tediously before your eyes, you can revel in the fact that dinner was a no-brainer. This is a meal that no one settles for.

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