Bullet in the head
French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet may not be the most prolific of film-makers, having made just 11 movies in the past 32 years, but he’s certainly one of the most interesting. And just as there were 10 years between his masterpiece Delicatessen (1991) and Amelie (2001), so nearly a decade has passed since Jeunet introduced the world to the quirky delights of Paris as seen through the wide eyes of Audrey Tautou, meaning the time is right for another slice of French cinema Jeunet-style. And even though Micmacs doesn’t have the charming Ms Tautou at the helm, it’s still an utterly beguiling piece of pure entertainment.
Bazil (Danny Boon) is a video store clerk, with seemingly no loftier ambitions than to learn the dialogue to all his favourite movies. One fateful day, however, Bazil is hit in the head by a stray bullet and it changes his life forever. With the bullet lodged in his brain casting a shadow of imminent death, Bazil struggles to make a life for himself on the streets. Falling in with a crowd of second-hand dealers, who welcome him into their junk-pile home, Bazil soon finds happiness. But when he discovers that the company who made the bullet is just across the street from the one that manufactured the landmine that killed his soldier father, he is galvanized to action. Teaming up with his new friends, including ex-con Slammer (Jean-Piere Marielle) and the aptly named contortionist Elastic Girl (Julie Farnier), Bazil concocts an elaborate and far-reaching plan that will bring down the corporations that have brought him such heartache.
Although dealing with such weighty themes as weapons manufacture and the black market arms trade, Micmacs handles these themes with such vibrancy and wit.The whole thing plays out like a colourful, manic fairy tale, the story zooming through glorious set pieces and enchanting sequences involving Bazil’s wonderfully concocted plans. It’s like an old-school heist movie mixed with the finest slapstick; Ocean’s Eleven meets Buster Keaton turned up to 11. It’s so beautifully crafted, artistically stylised that it would take multiple watches to take everything in, from the exquisite refuse sculptures built by Tiny Pete (Michel Crémadès) to the bullet-induced visions Bazil has when under pressure. And the cast more than stand up to the surreal, mad-cap antics, being a hugely likeable and quirky bunch who work well together. Leading man Boon is perfectly cast, lending Bazil an innocence and vulnerability which make him the pefect Jeunet hero.
Colourful, dazzling and utterly wonderful, Micmacs is another ravishing romp from one of the masters of modern French comedy. 4 stars
Just an interview with Jeunet. 2 stars
Stars Danny Boon, Jean-Piere Marielle
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Distributor E1 Entertainment
Released June 21