★★★★½ - STUFF
- Why fans of French comedies would be crazy to miss this movie -
Suze Trappet (Virginie Efira) is dying.
Aerosols have ruined the 43-year-old’s lungs and ovaries, the result of continued exposure during her hairdressing career.
While facing up to her own mortality, Suze is determined to track down the son she was forced to give up almost three decades earlier. Unfortunately, French bureaucracy has stymied her efforts at every turn.
Hope though comes from an unlikely and nearly fatal source. Upset at being passed over to handle a ministerial overhaul, security IT specialist Jean-Baptiste Cuchas (writer-director Albert Dupontel) has decided to end it all.
However, his ill-conceived workplace shotgun suicide goes somewhat awry, instead blasting a hole through the wall into the main office. While chaos ensues around her as everyone attempts to flee “a crazed gunman”, Suze finds herself drawn towards ground zero of the blast.
Not only does she spy a dazed Jean-Baptiste, but she also overhears his farewell message stuck on a loop on his computer, repeating the phrase, “Bye Bye Morons” over and over. Bundling him out of the building, she makes him a deal – get her the information she needs, and she’ll tell the authorities that “she saw the whole thing” and can vouch for his “version of events”.
What follows is a surprisingly taut, deliciously black comedy which offers a crowdpleasing mix of dystopian nightmare and French farce at its finest.
Clearly a Monty Python fan, Dupontel has dedicated Morons to the late Terry Jones (who featured in two of the Frenchman’s earlier films), while also finding a cameo for Terry Gilliam as the TV frontman for the Happy Hunters company.
And, indeed, it’s Gilliam’s Brazil that Morons reminds one most of, as well as the ‘90s films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro (Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children). The surrealist tendencies, unlikely hero and quirky support characters (here Nicolas Marie’s scene-stealing blind-man “Serge Blin”) are all present and correct.
Coupled with sequences involving the expert manipulation of elevators to help the course of true love and a near-impossible attempt to find a renamed road, as well as a terrific performance from Belgium’s uber-talented answer to Katherine Heigl, Efira (Elle, Sink or Swim), it’s easy to see why the film was not only a French box office smash, but also picked up seven Cesar Awards in March.
If you love Gallic humour, you’d be a moron to miss this.
- James Croot, STUFF
Bye Bye Morons is now playing at Light House Cinema!
(In French with English subtitles)