Wednesday, October 20, 2010

London Film Fest 2010 Day 8 - MAMMUTH - Castigat Ridendo Mores

Typically you go to the London Film Fest and when you sit down to a French flick you get existential angst. But this year, with LITTLE WHITE LIES and MAMMUTH, I've had a wonderful, joyful time! After the hard-core psycho-drama of WOMB it was marvellous to watch MAMMUTH - with its warm colours, gonzo style DV photography, hilarious physical comedy, and ultimately uplifting sentiment. Gerard Depardieu plays a complete fuckwit called Serge Pilardosse - he's physically clumsy; sports a mullet that Mickey Rourke in THE WRESTLER would be proud of; basically, he's a walking disaster zone. Dumped into retirement, he realises that, like many working class people, he doesn't have enough money for retirement. So starts a sort of motorcycle road trip in which he tries to gather up the necessary paperwork from his seven previous casual jobs in order to qualify for a state pension. The road trip allows writer-directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervem to examine the basic injustice of an economic system in which you can work hard your whole life in blue collar jobs but still basically have nothing to show for it. But this social critique is explored with the lightest of touches and with so much good humour! Any film that can show a scene of mutual masturbation that seems utterly cute and sweet (not to mention recalling NOVOCENTO) deserves credit. And any movie that can use the device of a crash-victim (Isabelle Adjani) haunting the driver and not seem hammy also deserves credit. Depardieu excels at this kind of physical humour - and his final scenes are truly inspirational. But it's Yolande Moreau, as his long-suffering wife, who truly steals the picture with her hilarious turn dealing with automated call centres, and vengeful attitude toward the woman who stole her phone. In addition, we get a great little cameo from the evidently mental Miss Ming. What else can I say? This is a movie with a lot of heart, a good message, some first-class swearing, physical comedy and a joyous ending. Parfait!

MAMMUTH played Berlin 2010 and was released earlier this year in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria.

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