Running time: 101 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A
UK Release date: 26th February 2010
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 26th March 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is a quirky French comedy (with subtitles) that, when it came out, attracted a few good reviews. On the strength of these I decided to watch it when it came up on TV recently. I have to say I wasn’t totally blown away by it, but there are some nice touches and there are parts I actually found genuinely funny! But more of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters and those that don’t wish to know anything about the plot please help the gang sort that junk while I write the next paragraph).
When Bazil was young, his father was killed whilst clearing mines in North Africa. Amongst his effects returned to the family was a photo of the mine that killed him, and Bazil never forgot the logo embossed into the mine casing. Now grown up, he has a job at a video store. One evening a shoot-out occurs in the street outside and Bazil is accidentally hit in the head by a stray bullet. The surgeon decides it’s too risky to remove the bullet and so Bazil leaves hospital only to find he is evicted from his apartment and his job has been given to someone else. He is given one of the bullet casings from the shootout, it has a different logo to the mine that killed his father but, again, Bazil commits it to memory. He now lives on the streets of Paris making a living busking. He is eventually taken in by a group of misfits who live in a junk yard. They make a living by recycling and selling things other people have thrown out. Lead by Tambouille, they include a contortionist, La Môme Caoutchouc, who Bazil has a bit of a thing for. Going about his job of collecting useful things to mend, Bazil comes across two buildings opposite each other. They bear the logos of the two companies that made the weapons that ruined his life. He decides to get revenge on the leaders of these two companies, Nicolas Thibault de Fenouillet and François Marconi. He ropes in his new found friends and this is where all the fun begins… I’ll leave it there so as not to enrage the Spoiler Police any more than necessary.
This is a very well made film with some really clever and inventive set pieces. It is visually very quirky, but in a nice way, and has a pretty decent soundtrack. Decent performances all round, particularly from; Dany Boon as Bazil, André Dussollier as Nicolas Thibault de Fenouillet, Nicolas Marié as François Marconi, Jean-Pierre Marielle as Placard, Yolande Moreau as Tambouille and Julie Ferrier as La Môme Caoutchouc.
At the beginning I loved the quirky comedy, almost reminiscent of the great Jacques Tati (but not quite). Unfortunately it couldn’t sustain its early promise and ended up falling pretty flat in the middle third. It seemed to pick up a bit towards the end, but by then, I’m afraid, it had lost a lot of its magic (for me). I somehow expected better from the director of the likes of Delicatessen (1991) and Amelie (2001), but sadly it didn’t match up to its early promise. It’s still quite an enjoyable film with some moments I found really funny and so I’ll recommend it for one viewing, at least.
My score: 6.2/10