Starring Dany Boon and André Dussollier. In French with English subtitles. Rated PG. Opens Friday, June 11, at the Ridge Theatre
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has always specialized in glossy colour fantasies with black-and-white 1930s sensibilities. Micmacs, his latest feature, deals with a group of anarchist outcasts living on the outskirts of Paris who decide to ruin the lives of two irresponsible, self-important arms dealers (André Dussollier and Nicolas Marié). If the plot is highly contemporary, the visual references owe far more to the cheekier Great Depression dramas of Jean Renoir, René Clair, and—especially—Jean Vigo than they do to the tropes of any contemporary cineaste.
Watch the trailer for Micmacs.
Bazil (Dany Boon, the writer, director, and star of Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, the most successful French film of all time) has particular reason to dislike the makers of infernal machines. An exploding land mine cost his father his life, his mother her sanity, and the boy his freedom (he was sent to a painfully strict Catholic orphanage as a result of this double bereavement). Then, while watching a dubbed Humphrey Bogart movie in the video store where he works, Bazil catches a stray bullet in the brain, a projectile that cannot be removed.
Now homeless and unemployed, he becomes part of the surrogate family of Tambouille (Yolande Moreau), a group of eccentrics, oddballs, and idiot savants who salvage abandoned machinery for a living. Combining their eclectic talents, they decide to seek justice for all the Bazils of the world, even if their own “armoury” is not only second-rate but secondhand.
The laughs might be relatively light in this serious comedy, but its heart is in the right place, and Jeunet delivers all that his myriad fans have come to expect from him (including a juicy part for Dominique Pinon). So, yes, the film does seem a tad familiar. On the other hand, it’s also a delight.