The Horseman on the Roof (Le Hussard sur le Toit) is a 1995 French film directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau. Starring Juliette Binoche and Olivier Martinez, it is based on the 1951 French novel, Le hussard sur le toit by Jean Giono.
The main male character, Colonel Angelo Pardi, is an Italian nobleman with a purchased rank in the calvary (hence the "horseman" in the title), but is in France attempting to raise money for the revolution. Going through a number of close encounters as he avoids and escapes from Austrian spies, he eventually encounters the female lead, Pauline de Théus, wife of the Marquee de Théus, in her house in a city she is visiting. She has delayed her stay, awaiting her husband's return and provides Colonel Pardi shelter for the night. Evacuation of the city separates them, but a later meeting sees them banding together to accomplish their own objectives, his being at this time to return to Italy with his funds, she searching for her husband.
In fact, the relationship could rightly be called platonic, but that seems too simple and one dimensional a word to use, for much, if not all, of the platonic nature stems from Colonel Pardi respecting the fact that Pauline is married. The relationship certainly does not, in the "modern" sense of the phrase, have the allure of the phrase "epic romance" that appears on the movie poster on this page. In fact, the picture on the poster implies an overt and visible aspect to the relationship, when in fact it is more subtle in nature. The movie portrays well the possibility of a relationship between a man and woman where they have emotions, but keep them in control, maintaining the proper behavior given their station in life.
The venerable chase, conducted on a high-brow level; `Horseman' uses old device but adds a touch of class.(VARIETY)(Review) (movie review)
May 24, 1996; "The Horseman on the Roof" is the classiest chase movie you might ever see. This French romantic adventure, adapted from a...