Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Film Review: Micmacs

Business ought to be booming around here with end of the year releases opening left and right, but that's precisely the problem; left, right and not middle America. Grand Rapids has yet to see the likes of Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech, etc.

Somehow though, it did manage to pull in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's little-buzzed latest, Micmacs, so I assuaged my lack of awards contenders with this unexpected release, which certainly seems like a blip on radar's everywhere, because I've seen as many reviews for this as I've seen West Michiganders clamoring for Rabbit Hole or Blue Valentine. For those living elsewhere, that number is nil.

Micmacs is a Jeunet film, no bones about it. It is unfortunately a little more City of Lost Children than Amelie, but without the freaky nightmare-scapes, and would have benefited from a stronger central character like his more recent films can boast. As Bazil, a hapless video store clerk with a bullet in his brain, Danny Boon isn't entirely uninteresting, but he lacks the luminescence of Audrey Tautou and the brilliant mugging of Dominique Pinon that carry his best films to success (yes, perpetual player Pinon is in them all, but more of him is never a bad thing). Bazil has at his back a flock of misfits, sort of like Team Inception but with less prized skills, and they're all just as charming as they are haphazardly existing together. As the one-time record breaking human cannonball, Pinon is the best of the bunch, but Omar Sy's wisdom spouting Congolese translator(?) fits Jeunet's wacky world to a tee.

It's a fun and rather frivolous group, but the real juice of the movie comes from their persistent attempts to take down two powerful arms dealers, played to comic perfection by André Dussollier and Nicolas Marié. Both play their parts with a prickly brand of evil and since they're very much the twin specters hanging over the film, they also come away with the most fleshed out characters.

So Jeunet is back after a few years off since the wonderful A Very Long Engagement, and while this one wasn't quite up to snuff with his best, it's nice to see such a visionary mind at work. His affection for silent cinema and physical comedy doesn't go unappreciated by me, and few directors today are as daring and inventive with the camera as he is. Needless to say, if you're not already a fan of his, this will not a convert make. I thankfully am, and so it was nice to see something a bit out of the usual box play here in GR.

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