9 April 2005 | El Bacho
Imaginative and hilarious
In the 60's, director Jean-Pierre Mocky shot several wonderful movies before his inspiration decreased in the 80's and 90's, leading him to cheaper and cheaper productions (in spite of a recent surge). In "La Cité de l'indicible peur", he's at the top of his game, with this very subversive production. French comedian Bourvil is a police inspector who trails a counterfeiter and spends several days in a small rural town, where you'll find one policeman, one butcher, one doctor, one chemist, and so on. And, supposedly, one bald, hard-drinking, cold-sensitive, cassoulet hating, murdering counterfeiter.
Needless to say, this investigation turns out to be a McGuffin or a red herring to a string of strange events in the town of Barges (also French for "loonies"). A killing beast roams at night, mannequins of the local saint lower hatchets and half printed banknotes go with the wind. Bourvil is perfectly cast as a good-willing and clueless investigator and the supporting characters are at least as interesting as his. What makes the movie works is that Mocky always manages to draw a thin line between iron-fisted anarchy and empathy towards his characters. At the beginning of the movie, Bourvil is put in charge of the investigation by a chief who turns out to be his own uncle, an apparently authoritative figure. At the end of the scene, when he's alone, you notice that the uncle is actually a diminutive man who climbs on a stool to look more impressive. This is the kind of slight touches that fill the entire movie.
One close relative to "La Cité de l'indicible peur" would be the "Twin Peaks" TV show. Actually, the movie forecasts the mood of "Twin Peaks" with a much lighter tone.