28 January 1999 | Varlaam
The stars of French film, as they "really" are
A famous actor/writer/director is accused of a string of embarrassing incidents which have actually been perpetrated by his lookalike. It transpires that the lookalike's life has been ruined by his resemblance to his famous double and he's out looking for a little payback.
Famous French actor Michel Blanc plays himself in this comedy. Carole Bouquet, also playing herself, is Michel's friend. A Who's Who of French cinéma make cameo appearances as themselves: Philippe Noiret, Thierry Lhermitte, Mathilda May, Roman Polanski, and others. Those few who were somehow unable to attend have their names dropped instead. These include authentic français(es) like Emmanuelle Béart and Alain Delon, and honorary ones like Buñuel and Woody Allen.
This film is a conceit, a vanity project where the stars supposedly play "themselves" and quite naturally are "exposed" as wonderful, well-rounded people. Someone makes a joke at the expense of Gérard Depardieu, but it's actually a backhanded compliment (he works too hard). We learn that the glamorous Carole Bouquet, Chanel perfume icon, is really just plain folks who loves to eat headcheese.
In spite of the self-serving, artificial nature of the whole enterprise, I actually found it quite enjoyable. We do get to see Carole Bouquet, as she really is, shooting up a gas station. There's quite a funny scene where Carole's beauty is all that's required to restore a paralysed man's stricken limbs. The townsfolk react by giving Ste-Carole a laying-on of hands. "Grosse fatigue" would have benefited from a few more farcical scenes like these; the film takes a little too much time before finding its way.
Philippe Noiret figures amusingly in a slight twist at the end of the film. More important, he gets to make a speech lamenting the sorry state of the French film industry, and that would seem to be the real point of this whole exercise.