3 June 2010 | guy-bellinger
OSS 117 by-product
This so-so comedy would probably never have existed without the two recent successful "OSS 117" spy film spoofs starring Jean Dujardin.The starting point is the same : a pulp novel (for the "OSS" films, books by Jean Bruce; concerning "Imogène McCarthery", a spy yarn by Charles Exbrayat titled "Ne nous fâchons pas, Imogène!"), exotic locations (Scotland replacing Egypt and Brazil), the reconstruction of a past period (the 1950s and the mid-1960s in the two Dujardin flicks; the early 1960s in "Imogène") and a talented French comedian (Dujardin/Catherine Frot) in the role of a clumsy spy who eventually manages to accomplish a difficult mission. But "OSS 117 -Le Caire nid d'espions" and its sequel "OSS 117 Rio ne répond plus" fare much better than "Imogène McCarthery, despite the latter's excellent cast (Lambert Wilson, Michel Aumont, Danièle Lebrun, Lionel Abelanski and the three funny actors who play the Soviet spies, Francis Leplay, Nicolas Vaude and Pierre Laplace) and its satisfying natural and artificial settings. What makes the two former films superior to "Imogène" is that they are not content to tell their (superficial) story, they also play on the stereotypes of the B or Z-films of the period the action is set in. OSS 117 is a self-centered, racist chauvinist and does not realise it, whereas we spectators are aware of it Thus we laugh at the fool while, by extension, these human flaws are denounced. In "Imogène", on the contrary, you are asked to be complicit with the title character, who has similar foibles (she is an unrepentant Scottish nationalist, and base all of her behavior on this stiff principle, generating an endless series of repetitive gags). As a result, if you disapprove of ultra nationalism, you will not really have a ball watching Catherine Frot always criticizing the English and the Welsh or breaking her engagement just because her fiancé is too ... tolerant! "Imogène McCarthery" is the first film directed by Franck Magnier and Alexandre Charlot, who once wrote for the famous satiric TV show "Les Guignols de l'Info". Their texts were incisive and biting. They seem to have lost their edge here.Let's hope this is only temporary.