Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Tchao pantin

1983, France, directed by Claude Berri

1983 was the high point of Coluche's not-all-that-distinguished cinematic career, between this film, which won him a César, and Bertrand Blier's La Femme de mon pote, loosely based on Coluche's own complicated private life (and particularly his relationship with Patrick Dewaere, originally supposed to play opposite Coluche in the latter film). Very few directors seemed to have known what to do with Coluche's raucous, populist comic persona -- while their comedy is quite different, it reminds me to some degree of the challenge that Robin Williams' manically energetic improvisation posed to directors right through the 1980s. Like Williams, Coluche could tone it down when required, sometimes to rather syrupy effect, but here the tone stays spare and generally unsentimental. Claude Berri is no cinematic innovator but the first half of his film is strong, sketching in the tentative and spiky friendship that develops between a night-shift petrol station attendant and a young North African (played by Richard Anconina). The second half proceeds in an increasingly obvious and rather less credible direction, despite the welcome insertion of Philippe Léotard, though this is partly due to the structure of the picture: we go through the first half of the film with essentially no information about Coluche's character except for a loose architecture that allows us to project a variety of troubles on him, and the second half fills in a good deal of the missing detail. Coluche doesn't have to display an enormous range but he does jaded very effectively, his downbeat demeanour well-matched with the overall vibe of Paris noir

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States