26 April 2019 | dbdumonteil
Insecurity in the French late seventies.
Not to be mistaken for Claude Chabrol's eponymous movie (1997).
This is a series of sketches ,all featuring Jacques Villeret ,"linked" by Mister-man-of-the-street interviews : in 1979, most of the French people were alreay complaining,moaning ,cursing those troubled times ;not only the connection with the sketches is artificial ,but it is also a spate of clichés ,and by the fourth opinion poll,the viewer may have a tendency to use the fast forward button.
Now for the segments:
segment one :"urgence":Jacques François ,Tonie Marshall.
A plumber is called in a hospital where there are damages caused by leakage ;he is mistaken for a patient and taken to the operating room.
This sketch was probably conceived to denounce those overcrowded hospitals where sick persons are crammed like cattle,but due to a heavy-handed directing,it fails totally to convince;only the dialogue of the deaf between the plumber and the surgeon does the trick,just because in the kingdom of the blind,the one-eyed man is king.
segment 2:"night in tube " :Patrick Chesnais, MIchel Jonas.
Three hoodlums spread terror in the subway ;the ending may be surprising but the short is a saddening bore ; it was supposed to depict the insecurity but Villeret would not scare a four year old.
segment 3:"thérapy" :Micheline Presles .
A socialite visits the poor and the sick in the hospitals in the name of the Lord and calls on a painter's art gallery where she goes into ectasies before his horrors; secretly ,she goes to her shrink's office and it's downhill ; one feels sorry for legendary actress Presles ;after urban insecurity,this is angst ,and it's hopeless.
Sketch 4:"return to the basic" Eva Darlan.
Things go a little better (it couldn't be worse)with this spoof on the "return to nature" which was so trendy in the FRench seventies ;the lines are a notch or two up the scale ; the only short where there's a little subtlety :does the tired writer leave Paris for the country because he wanted to escape from the trouble and the strife of a fashionable writer's life ,or because he was running out of ideas ;some sentences show that he has not given up his claim to fame (he wants to be talked about even when he is away);the way he condescendingly treats his peasant "brother" is also a good moment.The ending is ambiguous :it's not sure that the answer to insecurity and stress is outside the city limits.
segment 5: "Plucky Dupin".Michel blanc
A paranoiac is so afraid of thieves his house is full of deadly traps ; insecurity again ; and predictable ending ....
Segment 6: "we can work it out" Judith Magre .
A marvelously precise spoof on those two-bit psychoanalysis on the radio ; a woman (played by Villeret with a wig ) phones the local Ménie Grégoire (or Dear Abby ,if you're American)because she has lots of problems with her family ; this is downright absurd,but ,against all odds ,it works,because of Judith Magre's efficient performance of a reassuring and suave charlatan .Much better,in this field,than segment 3.
Segment 7: "sentimental hygiene " :Patrick Chesnais ,Evelyne Bouix.
A cop tracks the prostitution rings ;the ending is as predictable as that of segment 5.
Segment 8 "who's there?" Eva Darlan,José Arthur
This could have been a good spoof on stupid TV games ,but the paucity of the ideas and the unbearable actress's ham acting fail totally to grab the viewer.
Segment 9: "daily life at the "La Grenade " cafe": Patrick Chesnais , Roland Blanche, Tonie Marshall.
They saved the worst for the last ; it's the militaries' turn to be ridiculed ,and this final sketch is a mess ,a jumble,a waste of breath..
Two acceptable sketches (out of nine) ,it does not make it on the percentages ;it's really too bad for the sadly missed Villeret,who stars in every sketch and who was rarely given worthy parts on the silver screen