Sunday, November 18, 2012
My love for French cinema is not blind. I really dislike French comedies, French melodramas, French mainstream cinema and French bland dramas. I choose what I see. That is how I fell in deep love with French cinema, a love that started after I finished high school and had to face the "real" world. That is why, with a few exceptions, follow directors and not actors, follow great festivals to discover new films and new filmmakers. Have seen my share of bad French films but more than 90% of French films I decided to watch were fantastic cinema experiences.
A few months back I had the opportunity to watch this film and I said: No, merci. Then the French local committee selected this film to be the submission to 2013 Oscar. Got me upset, very upset. How could they chose this film above magnificent Jacques Audiard latest film? Or even, above crazy Holy Motors? Do the French want to show the world that they can also do mediocre films that make lots of money in France and beyond? Probably. Shame.
I saw the movie. Somehow I was hoping to be wrong, to like film, to enjoy the ride, to have an entertainment moment. But I did not. Yes, I did not like the film and most of all I did not like the story about pity and let me be clear, the word "pity" is one that doesn't exists in my vocabulary, there are many more words that can better explain caring for someone than this hideous word that plays with guilt. Then maybe that is why didn't like the story that made me feel awkward with all the clichés and stereotypes shown (including the brief lesbian interest moment), elements that are not often seen in good or bad French cinema.
I didn't like the performances. Have seen a few handicapped people stories and the two that came first to my mind have French pedigree: Jacques Audiard latest film and Julian Schnabel's Le Scaphandre et le papillon. In both films is key that characters are handicapped but more than showing the drawbacks they show their emotions, what they are feeling which allows actors to give us very layered performances. Marion Cotillard and Mathieu Amalric are simply fantastic in these two films. François Cluzet is a good actor, have seen good performances by him but this is not one of them as performance is simply "perfect" one dimensional, what you see is what you get, is spelled for you and you have nothing to do but just resign to watch what character does. But what really bothered me was Omar Sy that gave us an over-acted performance, so over-acted that many times made me close my eyes to not see him in the screen.
Not often I'm so graphic when telling you about what I dislike, but believe that this time I have to be clearer as after all this is a worldwide success movie if you consider the money that has made, the huge amount of people that have seen it and the "honors" that has collected. As many praise this film -so much that there will be a Hollywood remake- have to share that I am not alone in feeling the way I feel about this movie. There are critics and viewers that also did not enjoy much this film. Some examples that speak about what I also felt.
"What The Intouchables does cannot exactly be called grappling, and its genial parade of stereotypes may be more regressive than liberating. It is certainly possible to be offended by the broad, silly aspects of Mr. Sy’s performance."
"The plot, as a result, becomes disastrously condescending: the black man, who’s crude, sexy, and a great dancer, liberates the frozen white man. The film is an embarrassment."
"Remarkably, late in the film Phillippe encourages Driss to seek work elsewhere so he can live closer to home; his forcing Driss back into the projects and into unemployment is framed as an act of friendship."
"À l’arrivée, le résultat est à peu près le même : même parlant et pensant, le corps handicapé reste un objet, un instrument, au même titre que la figure de bouffon qui l’accompagne, tous deux pantins au service d’un divertissement désincarné et d’autant moins sympathique qu’il prétend vendre de l’émotion certifiée authentique."
"A mediocre film for mediocre minds". "Hollywood film made in French".
"It's as slick as an oil spill, as sugary as an eclair, and many moviegoers will find it irresistible."
So post has become long but you get the idea, I didn't like film at all while MANY just love it, including those that selected film to be France's submission to Oscar. IF you like good cinema suggest to avoid this movie, especially if you already had the opportunity to watch and decided not to.
This award season GREAT surprise will come IF this film does not make it to the shortlist of nine in the foreign-language category. IF happens then admit that will have to consider that foreign-language committee Academy members deserve more respect than the one I have been giving to them lately. Unfortunately due to WHO is behind this film (the American distributor) is most likely to not happen. Then on the positive side, I will have to continue feeling very little respect for those Academy members. Sigh.
Watch trailer @MOC