Le Grand Soir: Cannes Review

The Big Night Le Grand Soir
More mischief-making from French satirists Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern

Gerard Depardieu and Albert Dupontel star in this punk rock comedy that is up for an Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival.

Punk is not dead but graying at the temples in another screw-the-system comedy from anarchic French directing duo Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern.

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Characteristically scabrous but still kind of sweet, this Un Certain Regard entry sends up its soul-deadening strip-mall milieu and takes jabs at the failings of a consumerist society without ever taking itself too seriously. Its humor’s screwball in a minor key and much of the satire is peculiarly French, making this France-Belgium co-production sure to score with domestic audiences on its release June 6 but a tougher sell abroad.

The self-professed “oldest punk in Europe with a dog,” Not (Benoit Poelvoorde) is also, it seems, a bit of a fan of John Cleese circa Fawlty Towers, his chaotic energy periodically exploding into gangling fits of rage.

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He’s a forty-something non-conformist who wears the punk uniform of camouflage fatigues, mohawk and jackboots. He sleeps in dumpsters, gets drunk and goes to concerts but mostly hangs about the shopping centre where his parents (the singer Brigitte Fontaine and Areski Belkacem) have a snack shop. Not’s brother, Jean-Pierre (Albert Dupontel), is a mattress salesman in a chain store there too and he is Not’s opposite, straight-laced and line-toeing.

When Jean-Pierre’s life starts to unravel and he is threatened with unemployment, the veneer of acquiescence quickly crumples and it doesn’t take long for Not to woo him over to the rebellious side of the street.

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Le Grand Soir follows on from Delepine and Kervern’s absurdist 2011 road trip comedy Mammuth (that film’s star Gerard Depardieu has a cameo here as a fortune-teller) and has the same sense of action unfolding organically, thanks to the duo’s fondness for shooting scenes in chronological order.   

Cast: Albert Dupontel, Benoit Poelvoorde, Brigitte Fontaine, Areski Belkacem
Production company: GMT Productions, No Money Productions and Panache Productions
Writer/directors: Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern
Producers: Jean-Pierre Guerin, Benoît Delepine, Gustave Kervern, André Logie, Gaëtan David
Executive producer: Christophe Valette
Director of photography: Hugues Poulain
Production designer: Paul Chapelle
Costume designer: Florence LaForge
Editor: Stephane Elmadjian
Sales: Funny Balloons
No rating, 92 minutes