Normandy Nude (Normandie Nue) would be the end-product if a pinch of social criticism, a big bucket of charms, packaged with a dash of Spencer Tunick character, mixed in a town in Normandy, called Mêle-sur-Sarthe. The town relies a lot on farming and livestock – and the cheaper imports from Germany and Romania are blamed when meat prices continue to plummet. The mayor, Georges “Balbu” Balbuzard (François Cluzet), is at wits’ end, trying to keep the town afloat. His refusal to allow a big supermarket to enter Mêle-sur-Sarthe (despite their attempt to bribe him) only makes the matter worse, as the town continues to decline. So, to highlight the issue, the townsfolks block the road to Paris to create some media attention. One of the travellers who is inconvenienced is an American photographer called Newman (Toby Jones) and his assistants, Bradley (Vincent Regan) and Ross (Colin Bates). We are informed that Newman likes to take photographs of naked ordinary people in various international locations (like Spencer Tunick in real life). When Newman falls in love with a local field in Mêle-sur-Sarthe, he has to convince the mayor to enlist everybody in town to pose naked for the photo — and the mayor also has an idea of using this unusual photoshoot opportunity to bring attention to their plight as well. The question is, will everybody agree?
The end product is a pleasant movie, that is light enough to consume, with some crunch of social criticism that is a bit here nor there. The tensions brought by feuding farmers, prudish townfolks, and the arrival of some Americans in a traditional Normandy town make Normandy Nude (Normandie Nue) a pleasant movie to enjoy.
However, there are also some unnecessary distractions, like the Parisian family who move to Mêle-sur-Sarthe for some peace and quiet, and how the movie ends up triggering some eczema and asthma attack to the father. How it is related to the whole storyline? Who knows. The movie could have been packaged more tightly – the director, Philippe Le Guay, could have created a movie that is disarmingly charming.