Title: MicmacsDirector: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Staring: Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Julie Ferrier, Nicolas Marié, Marie-Julie Baup, Michel Crémadès, Yolande Moreau, Jean-Pierre Marielle
Plot: Bazil (Boon) a movie obsessed video store clerk has had nearly everything he hold dear to him taken away by weapons of war, his father having been killed by a landmine in Morocco when he was a boy and now as an adult he now finds himself with a stray bullet lodged in his skull and on the verge of instantaneous death. Things only get worse when he finds himself suddenly replaced at his job aswell as made homeless forcing him to walk the streets of Paris, where he is taken in by scavenger Slammer (Marielle) and his bands of fellow scavengers / misfits. Happy with his new life as a scavenger Bazil soon stumbles across a chance for revenge on the arms companies which not only made the mine which killed his father but also who made the bullet lodged in his skull and soon forms his plan for revenge with the help of his new friends.
Review: For some reason it has taken me until now to watch this film which is something of a conundrum for myself considering how much of a fan of director Jeunet’s previous films, which like this film play out like surreal fairy tales with an adult twist, a style he has continued to establish with each film he has made, only twice breaking away from this style of direction for “Alien Resurrection” and “A Very Long Engagement” which didn’t exactly resonate for myself and was essentially key in my cautiousness in approaching this film, cautiousness which I can now say was unneeded as Jeunet here returns with a vengeance to his more recognised film making style. Perhaps because of his break from his more associated style, it might explain the frenzied energy of this film as he comes out swinging here, throwing all manner of strange characters and hijinks onto the screen, making the original French title “MicMacs à tire-larigot” which translates to “Non-stop shenanigans” only all the more fitting.
Essentially a revenge movie via the way of “Mission Impossible”, somthing which in the hands of Jeunet takes on a very different style than what most directors would produce given this same brief, as the traditional gruff badass unleashing vengeance those who wronged him is nowhere in sight, which is almost a shame considering that Jamel Debbouze has originally been considered for the role of Bazil, only to leave after three week due to artistic and financial disagreements with Junet. Like Ethen Hunt in “Mission Impossible” Bazil has his own team whose members all process a special skill, it would be hard to say that any of his groups skills are anything you would expect from this kind of team, as Bazil is joined in his quest for revenge by contortionist Elastic Girl (Ferrier), human cannonball Buster (Pinon), Sculptor Tiny Pete (Crémadès), Calculator (Baup) who can measure and calculate things with a glance and former convict and guillotine survivor Slammer, while the group are generally kept together by former ethnographer and cook Mama Chow (Moreau). Reading through this skill list they might not seem like the most qualified group for taking down a couple of arms dealers, but that only adds to the fun and beauty of this film as Jeunet’s seemingly unlimited creativity is unleashed as he continually manages to find new and more inventive ways to utilize these skills and often with chaotic results.
Shot in Jeunet’s usual distorted reality, he has once again created a world which while seemingly set in reality, still allows for random daydream sequences as shown by an orchestra randomly appearing behind Bazil, only to suddenly disappear as he snaps himself back to reality, while this setting enables Jeunet to use an incredible pallet of colors while ensuring that every scene is crammed with as much detail as possible which will no doubt have some of you reaching for pause button just to take in some of the smaller details, including the bizarre appearances of posters from the film appearing throughout. Still even this supposed version of reality is none the less strange with Bazil and the misfits who make up his team, making a home for themselves in a cave carved into a trash heap, living a life none to dissimilar to that of “The Wombles” as they make use of scrap that other folks leave behind with Tiny Pete especially making use of this scrap in his inventive sculptures which range from humanoid figurines such as his weight lifter to the more simple yet none the less visually arresting dancing dress.
Once more the humor here is decidedly reminisant of the comedies of the silent era, with the majority coming from gleefully over exaggerated performances, especially on the part of Boon who makes the most of his clownish physique and even more so with the continually inventive ways the group complete their goals, while there is something surprisingly satisfying about seeing the underdogs pulling the carpet from underneath the feet of the all-powerful big dogs. Meanwhile subject of the arms race and the devastation it causes is certainly a hot topic and once certainly broached in more serious films, the tone is kept light aswell as broad enough that you no doubt keep any serious contemplation of the larger issues till after the film.
For the established fans of Jeunet’s films they will no doubt appreciate this return to more familiar territory, while newcommers will find it more of a gentle introduction to his surreal worlds than the darker “Delicatessen” or “The City of Lost Children”, with it’s memorable characters and warm humor, it is hard not to be charmed once more his work