4 April 2018 | barevfilm
Unique French New Wave sarire
Dragées au Poivre, (1963)
French Sixties Landmark was a highlight of the Restored Classics
Section at Cannes 2016
Director Jacques Baratier, with cameo by Belmondo
Gerard, a young man from a "good family" dreams of becoming an actor. To do this, he follows his sister Frédérique who is infatuated with cinéma vérité.
The title of the film, which literally translates as "Sweets loaded with Pepper" suggests the trick that children would play on adults by handing them a delicious looking sweet bonbon which turns out to be bitter. When the French New Wave and so-called Cinema Verité movements were all the rage -- the age of Beatle mania --when Godard and his followers thought they were so much more clever and creative than the older generation of French filmmakers, and stars like Jean-Paul Belmondo were busy breaking the classic leading man thespian mold, Jacques Bararier, a multi-faceted artist writer and filmmaker chose to take these wise guy upstarts down a peg or two by signing them up to make fun of themselves in a slam-bang musical comedy burlesque that was a mold breaker on its own.
The film opens within a long sequence featuring an established older tennis star with a Long Polish name (Jean-Pierr Marirlle) who goes down to shameful defeat. 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 at the hands of an upstart Young Player who doesn't even know how to hold the racket properly, and this sets the tone for the entire film. The younger generation breaking all the rules and shaming their elders in the process.
In a series of loosely connected sketches enlivened by take-offs on Beatles style music, called Yé-yé in France at the time, we see iconic actors like Belmondo and Simone Signoret, Jacques Dufilho, Claude Brasseur, François Périer, and Anna Karina doing parodies of their own screen personae while young stand up comedian Guy Bedos does a dry interpretation of himself throughout. connecting all the skits. It is significant that Bedos was a great fan of American stand up comedian and bitter anti-establishment satirist, Lenny Bruce, who broke every rule of acceptable comedy and was often arrested for doing so. I don't know if Bruce was ever saw this picture, but he would have loved it if he did.
"Dragées au Poivre" misleadingly entitled "Sweet and Sour" in English release -- suggesting Chinese food rather than bokd, heady satire -- was probably lost in the Nouvelle Vague shuffle outside of France but it stands alone, even today, as a unique instance of Gallic parody of the anti-culture of the time in France.