"Les Clefs De Bagnole", a film which got a majority of thumbs down from both the French critics and public. Many viewers took the little catchy sentence at the time the film opened in December 2003 very seriously: "Don't go and watch it, it's rubbish". But in a way, by choosing such words, the director-actor Laurent Baffie condemned the commercial potential of his work. So, commercial fiasco was nearly inevitable.
However, I must admit that his oddball film is not that much bad. I know that Baffie is a humorist man who has a special sense of humor but I've never seen or read any of his productions. Here, I can easily understand why hardly anybody went to see his movie and also why "La Crème De La Crème" of well-famous French actors and prestigious producers refused to act in Baffie's work (but maybe, was it a cunning trick from Baffie to include all of them in his film). But he entertained me for one hour and a half and if you're looking for something quirky, offbeat in the territory of the French comedy, why not testing it? Obviously, Baffie's movie isn't exempted from negative points. There are some irregularities in his scenario. During one fleeting moment, he says to his pal Daniel Russo that he needs a twist to boost his (cock-and-bull) story again. But before, he claims having conceived and penned his scenario for three years. So, he should logically know how his scenario is built instead of thinking about a twist at the last minute! Then, certain comical effects are ponderous and there is a wearisome sensation of general overflow sometimes on the brink of indigestion. Sometimes, it's also hard to discern if what we watch on the screen is an integral part of the film that Baffie strives to shoot or not like the sequence with the bank manager. A bank manager acted by a French humorist Jean-Marie Bigard who, here was surprisingly good and refrained himself from virtually any saucy lines apart from two or three exceptions.
Baffie is well aware that his plan is a dead loss but his product constantly maintains the interest because he takes the audience on the way of the unexpected. His film virtually evolutes on the razor's edge and is much fun to watch with its unplanned detours and digressions. If they seem sometimes overlong, Baffie always bears in mind that he tries to create a film about two guys who lost their car keys and seek them. To find them again, he's ready to blindly trust people likely to to give him clues about these keys like the children. Don't we say that "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings comes forth truth"? To buy a dog trained to bring car keys back might also be a good idea... In the bargain, the director-actor has a sense of absurd (the door in his flat which leads to the beach) and indulges in inserting in his work hilarious spoofs like the moment when Russo and Lucie are outside the Café... and we are entitled to a swift but great spoof on mawkish movie. The wacky humor has something of "La Cité De La Peur" (1994), the film of "Les Nuls". Besides, Alain Chabat has a cameo as an employee in a pet shop. He only appears five minutes but we remember well his role.
Baffie also seems to be a wizard at cinema. His film is filled with many film-loving hints, winks, references which sometimes arrive just at the right moment. After Baffie and Russo went to the chic restaurant, Russo feels sick and throws it up. On an awning, in front of them, one can read the title of Marco Ferreri's film: "La Grande Bouffe" (1973). Then, we can be grateful to Baffie to present us a few lessons about cinema in general like the ellipse or the little lecture about the ingredients to make a good film.
If you don't take seriously this farce, you may have fun with perhaps this future sleeper.
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