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"Le héros de la famille" is the story of a cabaret in Nice called "Le
perroquet bleu" (The blue parrot). The innkeeper, Gabriel(le) dies at
the beginning of the movie and leave his business to his godchildren :
Nino and Marianne, whom father (the magician played by Gérard Lanvin)
had been taken under Gabriel's wing when he was fifteen years old.
After the reading of the will, the fate of the Blue Parrot is in their
After having heard and read a lot of critics which said this movie was great, I've decided to see it so that I could make my own opinion. During maybe half an hour I was wondering "Yeah, that's cool, but not as great as it was supposed to be..." but the more time passed, the more I understood why I've been said it was a fine movie.
First of all, the cast is outstanding! Gérard Lanvin is very good in this part of a lost man, who just begins to know his children when his father-like best friend dies. Catherine Deneuve is very funny, she becomes less and less cold as she gets older. And all the others (I won't name all the great actors who play in this movie) are very right in their parts.
Then, every character has his own psychology. Some of them appear only a few minutes in the movie, but we feel that they ARE, they do exist in the movie. They're not just here to walk-on, they're here because they belong to the big family of the Blue Parrot.
I also think the movie deals with a lot of existential questions: Do we have to live like our parents? Do we have to do the direct opposite of them? From whom do we inherit? and finally, I think the most important question : What a family is?
So, if you like french cinema, french actors, or if you like the "films chorale" (i don't know how to say it in English : a movie in which there is no protagonist, or more exactly in which everybody is), "Le héros de la famille" has been made for you!...
... and if you don't, nothing keep you from being curious ;)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Christopher Thompson is racking up quite a track record as a writer, albeit writing in collaboration, three times with his mother, Daniele - La Buche, Decolage Horaire, Fauteuils d'orchestre - and twice (including this entry) with Thierry Klifa (their first film together was Une Via a t'attendre. At the moment he's batting a thousand because there's not a dud amongst the lot of them so this one is in good company. With the exception of Decalage Horaire all the films he's co-written have featured ensemble casts and this is no exception. The family and friends that gather in Nice for the reading of a will include Gerard Lanvin, Catherine Denouve, Miou-Miou, Valerie Lemercier Charles Brasseur, and Manu Beart, heavy hitters all and they turn in top-of-the-line performances to complement the excellent script. Gerard Lanvin in particular seizes the opportunity to give his charm a workout in the role of Nicky, a magician/MC at the Blue Parrot - perhaps an homage to Casablanca - whilst Miou-Miou and Deneuve are both on top of their game as is Beart as a chanteuse. There's something about the Riviera and night clubs that brings out the drag in actors and Charles Brasseur seems more than content to follow Michel Simon in La Cage aux folles by limning the deceased Gabrielle. Definitely one to see again and acquire on DVD.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Blue Parrot, a night club in Nice, serves as the backdrop for most
of the action of this French film co-written and directed by Thierry
Klifa. Christopher Thompson is credited as the other writer. Mr.
Thompson, an actor himself, has been generous to all the players in the
film. After all, everyone has a chance to be in front of the camera for
quite some time.
Unfortunately, to this humble viewer the whole thing did not ring true from start to finish. Perhaps the mere idea of watching Claude Brasseur, a distinguished actor, play a kind of Victor/Victoria singing "On the Sunny Side of the Street" in drag was simply appalling. If one can believe that, then there is nothing wrong with this film.
Gerard Lanvin is seen as Nicky, who sired two children by two different wives. It's hard to believe he could get Catherine Deneuve's, or Emmanuelle Beart's attention, even on a sober day. Geraldind Pailhas, Miou-Miou, and Valerie Lamercier fare better in their roles.
There seems to be some confusion as to where this film was shot. IMDb credits the location to Marseilles, but looking closely, it's apparent Nice was the actual site for the action, unless the final shot of the Promenade des Anglais was just thrown in to make it appear that way.
I must say this film is one of the most boring I have been given to see and i am disappointed because some great actors are playing in this movie. so during the first half an hour, i was thinking "a bunch of very good actors, it must be great" but after those first minutes of excitement I have seen a non sense scenario, uninteresting dialogs and story. there were a lot of people in the cinema leaving the place before the end. if you are not very familiar with the French cinema, I strongly recommend not to begin with this one, Brasseur, Lanvin and Deneuve have made so much beautiful movies in the past that It would be a shame to see this one first. Please, for the sake of French cinema, spare us with this kind of crap.
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