This French farce is a fitfully amusing critique of bureaucracy and the legal system (apparently the Code Napoleon can produce decisions ridiculous enough to rival even those of the British and Australian adversarial courts).
Whilst the stinging critique of injustice hits its target with frequency, the film itself is an oddly-structured vehicle that suffers greatly from its low budget.
The protagonist's fall from grace and subsequent hopes to turn a shanty town into a modern suburb reflect the poverty and suffering of the French in the destitution of the immediate post-war era and their hopes for the future. One could read the scamming and rorting by the corrupt businessman as encapsulating a fear of the Marshall Plan (the metaphorical "treasure" with a sting in its tail).
Nevertheless, the cinematography is rudimentary, the plot awkward and the lighting and colour a lack of artistry that serve to undermine the some of this great social critique.
Whilst the themes raised about the nature of bureaucracy are as relevant today as ever, this film has dated somewhat. Whilst aficionados of French cinema will find some things to enjoy, more casual viewers may find this a less interesting affair, which is unfortunate because, with more effort at employing effective cinematic/literary devices to develop the plot, this could have been one of the great French comedies.
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