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Typecast French Actors lip-sync-hing their dubbed American accents
Overall, the film is exceptional for what it is. That is, an imitation American crime thriller with a catchy plot mostly in exotic, little seen Romanian locales. If that's what you want to see, then I rate it a 9. I also rate it a 9 for the producer's ambition to make this French film a totally Hollywood-looking production, including the now mandatory shoots in Central/Eastern Europe. And in this requisite, we are spared of the tired Czech Republic, and get a glimpse of little-seen and fascinating (I mean that - have been there several times) Romania. That is also worth a lot points.
The Romanian locations are beautiful, and obviously very cheap for the producers. Anyone who's been there (particularly British and Dutch skiers flocking to the Transylvania mountains) will know that prices are a great side benefit of visiting a Romania, if not the main reason itself for skiing, or shooting scenes there.
So, both the viewers and the investors win with this decision. The action scenes are as good as in any Hollywood film of this moderate caliber or budget, and thus score high points in that category as well.
Taking the main story line out of France also makes the obvious American English dubbing of the two lead French actors less of a distraction, though for some viewers it may be just too weird to bear. After all, both Berry and Saïd have appeared in many English speaking roles, especially recently. And the film tries to be both, but the lips don't lie.
So, the viewer drawn to the film will immediately notice the "too neutral to be real" American accidents don't belong to these (or any other) film actor. At the same time, everyone (including inside contemporary French penitentiaries) is lip sync-hing English, with only trained American voices to be heard "partout". Only Berry's young son (whose mouth is well covered by a telephone) is not shown moving his lips in the so-out of place language. A few more points for this surreal treat.
In fact, the only French to be heard is in some background music. Even airport announcements at Roissy Airport are in English only. The only Romanian heard (this site lists the film's languages as French/Romanian) is part of an in-flight welcome announcement aboard TAROM Airlines to Bucharest.
To be fair though, the multi-lingual Portuguese actor Joaquim De Almeida does speak in English, and in his own voice. But of course, he's playing a Romanian. Whether a British accented version of this film exists, I don't know. You'd think in the European Union, they would adopt British English as the standard and not the American version.
But here in South America (and indeed all of Zone 4), the DVD's original language version is American English. In France it is dubbed into French, presumably with Saïd and Berry's real voices, while they are mouthing off English. In fact, I only learned on this site that the film's "real" title is "Entre Chiens et Loups" as DVD versions refer to the English title as the original title.
I enjoyed it tremendously, but I know Romania, I'm an American living abroad, and a longtime fan of French cinema and culture. I could appreciate both the entertainment value of the film, the weirdness of its origins, and the bitter-sweet taste of seeing a major French (of all nationalities!) production succumbing not just to English, but to its American version.
Recently, I had already seen two major French actors, Depardieu and Saïd (also a lead here) speaking to each other in English in another French action flick spoken, artificially spoken in English, CRIME SPREE. That film had some French dialog though, and when the French actors spoke, they used their natural French accents and voices. But this film here is better (not due to the bizarre language issue), more entertaining and infinitely weirder in its search for an identity.
Is this confusing compromise what globalization promises? Or is it just really Americanization, which Europeans are too afraid or proud to openly call its by its name?
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