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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday October 3, 2019 


A mine in the Moroccan desert kills his father. Years later, a stray bullet lodges in his brain ... and now Bazil (Dany Boon) lives on the brink of sudden death. Released from the hospital, Bazil is homeless until he is adopted by a motley crew of second-hand dealers living in a veritable Ali Baba's cave, whose talents and aspirations are as surprising as they are diverse: Remington (Omar Sy), Calculator (Marie-Julie Baup), Buster (Dominique Pignon), Slammer (Jean-Pierre Marielle), Elastic Girl (Julie Ferrier), Tiny Pete (Michel Cremades) and Mama Chow (Yolande Moreau). When Bazil recognizes the logos of the weapons manufacturers that caused his hardship on the front of two large buildings, he starts to plan his revenge - with the invaluable help of his new friends.

Review by Louise Keller:
With the same kind of mood and whimsy as Delicatessen and his unforgettable Amelie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs takes us on a rollicking trip into the unexpected world of arms dealers. Tragedy and comedy are joined at the hip in this quirky and inventive film that looks at the world from a unique point of view. In an Aladdin's Cave filled with salvage gear and a licorice allsorts bunch of outcast oddballs, Dany Boon's protagonist Bazil finds a new life, new purpose and new friends. It's the incongruity of the characters, the bizarre situations and the logic (or not) of what transpires that gives the film its greatest charm.

Not only does Jeunet mess with our heads, but he messes with the heads of the characters we meet. It all starts in the Sahara when a man is killed by a landmine. Years later, a bullet is inadvertently lodged in the skull of the man's son, Bazil, as he mimes the dialogue from Bogie and Bacall's The Big Sleep in the video store in which he works. The toss of a coin seals his fate, just like the way he finds himself adopted by the group of strangers with talents as strange and diverse as their names. These include the extraordinary Calculette (Marie-Julie Baup), who accurately estimates distance as well as dissecting ingredients in a stew, Dominique Pinon's irrepressible human cannon ball and the eager-to-please contortionist Caoutchouc (Julie Ferrier), who bends over backwards in order to chill out in the refrigerator. His mum might have told him to avoid twisted girls, but Bazil is fascinated.

Boon is wonderfully cast as the dazed Bazil, who concocts an elaborate plot (with a little help from his friends) to get his revenge on the unscrupulous arms company that has changed his life. Microphones planted in chimneys, briefcase swaps, hungry guard dogs, bees on the loose, a security guard with an eye for hot sex, Churchill's nail clippings and Mussolini's eye all play a part in what happens next. The action is dense and wacky, the humour is clever and if the sight gags don't get you, the ideas will. Often chaotic and confusing, Micmacs is enchanting and appealing in equal doses. Guaranteed to give you a new perspective, Jeunet's film is an original. A welcome one at that.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Chance - or fate - plays a large part in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's cinematic visions, and his central characters invariably try to do good in this world, always against the odds and usually against some unsavoury characters. The latter are on the wrong side of the human ledger in some key ways, as in Micmacs, where the two main baddies are weapons makers and dealers. This is the serious grounding for what is a comedy filled with invention - and inventions.

In what is the ultimate weapon against them, Jeunet ridicules these characters (who represent all the world's dealers in death). The tone of the film is not dissimilar to that of his first really big hit, Delicatessen; it's semi-farcical, but restrained and shaped into efficient comedy, thanks to strong characterisations and his endless imagination in creating scenes of great vigour and detail.

Dany Boon is the hapless Bazil, an innocent in a crazy world. His thirst for revenge isn't bloody but it's earnest. His friends provide the accompaniment, rather like an orchestra to the soloist - and they're harmoniously entertaining. Julie Ferrier stands out as Elastic Girl, a contortionist with many practical uses while spying on the baddies. Dominic Pinon (who appears in all Jeunet's films) is the record breaking human cannonball, whose functionality brings an opportunity for some real old fashioned (almost) silent comedy.

The two baddies are played by the popular veteran Andre Dussollier and Nicolas Marie; they are intentionally cartoonish, but the underlying distaste towards the industry their characters represent is never in doubt.

The screenplay gets a bit confusing in the second act, when too many tertiary characters are thrown into the action, but the film has such visual appeal that we can forgive that muddle. When the fog clears, we're back in the chase and Jeunet has great fun with revealing the sleight of hand that this gang uses to bring the baddies to justice.

There is one puzzling element: the film opens with credits styled on the black and white noir films (if you'll pardon the pun) of the 1940s, like The Big Sleep .... which is playing in the opening scene. But the film never again refers to either the period, the style or the story. Maybe Jeunet just likes Bogart and Bacall . . .

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Micmacs à tire-larigot

CAST: Dany Boon, Andre Doussolier, Nicolas Marie, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Yolande Moreau, Julie Ferrier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Michel Cremades, Urbain Cancelier, Patrick Paroux, Jean-Pierre Becker, Stephane Butet, Philippe Girard

PRODUCER: Jean Pierre Jeunet, Frederic Brillion, Gilles Legrand

DIRECTOR: Jean Pierre Jeunet

SCRIPT: Jean Pierre Jeunet, Guillaume Laurent


EDITOR: Herve Schneid

MUSIC: Raphael Beau


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes



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