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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Daphné Despero (Alice Isaaz) has a junior role at a bustling Parisian publishing house and lives with her struggling novelist boyfriend Fred Koskas (Bastien Bouillon), whose latest novel, The Bathroomhas just been brushed off by critics. One weekend while at her father's house on the Crozon peninsula in Brittany, Delphine learns of the existence of a library of unpublished literary works which were rejected by publishing houses. Daphné soon discovers a manuscript that entrances her, Les Dernières Heures d'une histoire d'amour (The Last Hours of a Love Affair), a story that recounts the end of an affair and the agony of the Russian writer Pushkin. The author, Henri Pick, used to run a pizzeria in the local area and recently passed away. A taciturn dude who was never seen to read a book, he kept his writing and literary aspirations a complete secret from his family, who are bewildered to learn of his talent.
The work is published by Daphné and becomes a best-selling phenomenon. It leads to Pick's widow appearing on a cultural television show hosted by elitist literary critic Jean-Michel Rouche (Fabrice Luchini). He snobbishly voices his doubts about the author's real identity, and the subsequent backlash sees him losing both his job and his wife. Rouche undergoes a late midlife crisis and demonstrating that he was right soon becomes a personal matter, and so begins a story-within-a-story investigation. New clues are soon uncovered by Rouche with the aid of Joséphine (Camille Cottin), Henri Pick's headstrong daughter.
In the hands of a less-skilled director, this could be quite silly. But The Mystery of Henri Pick is deftly handled by Bezançon. A sedate and civilised movie, Bezançon unspools the story with care, keeping the tone light and playful, the mystery intriguing and gently teased out.
For a film about the harsh realities of the publishing industry and a man ruining his life over (possibly) a great literary fraud, The Mystery of Henri Pick is a surprisingly pleasant, sophisticated and light-hearted crowd-pleaser.