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This movie is a road movie in the France of small people, done by an
atypical guy on an atypical bike (would you figure that the antique
Munch Mammuth that Gérard Depardieu is shown riding is priced around
As Depardieu is making his trip to the places where he used to live and work, so that he can get the paperwork he needs to retire, we meet a number of comic situations, that often reveal the absurdity of our modern world (see the scene where Yolande Moreau fights against an automated voice phone service). Miss Ming character also gives us some nice touches of craziness.
Besides the comic situations, there is a more serious tone. The movie shows us the rigidity of the retirement system, from which a number of people are excluded, as they are anyway excluded from the whole economical system. A few moments in the movie also make us feel how getting old can be a wrecking for these people.
So there is both fun and sensibility there, and Gérard Depardieu is good at conveying both. This is his best role for a great while and it proves that he stills has something to give.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the unglamorous journey of an uneducated precarious worker
driving thru France on his Mummuth bike to get the missing social
security documents that will grant him his social rights to claim his
pension. On this journey, he comes to terms with the death of his first
love and finally acknowledges his love for his wife.
Special guest stars appear throughout this outrageous road movie:for instance Isabelle Adjani who made an extraordinary come back with the French movie "the day of the skirt" (i'm unable to put French titles to French films here)
The French directors are well-know for their rather satirical outlook on the world mainly thru the very popular daily TV show "Groland" on French private TV Canal+.
It gives this epic road movie a genuine feeling of authenticity.
It is somber and dark. It depicts the average low life people, the ones that no movies are made about. No one wants to see the miserable workers, the way they are, in a pathetic yet moving way.
It is obviously a metaphor about today's society without its pretty face-lift, the supermarket cashier is not played by a glamorous JLO (Jennifer Lopez).
This film will thus be repugnant to watch to the viewer that cannot stand actors without make up, fake body parts. Viewers who cannot stand to see the truth about the life of the ordinary workers, with a surreal twist should be advised not to watch the film.
The film was shot in a rather bad quality which does not only show how poor they were (and incapable of raising the money for this awkward film for which Depardieu does not get a dime!) but also set the film in a genre : social realism.
Throughout the film Depardieu is naked, without protection. What a great performer he is ! He does not care about his image being potentially undermined by this movie. He is truly pathetic which is exactly the feeling the directors want to bring out. That shitty life you live makes you pathetic but this is not only what the directors want us to see. Obviously - unless you're so blinded by Hollywood glamor - you cannot watch a truly weird and honest film about realities that are never featured on film. Ken Loach would never show his characters under such unkind light.
That's why it is a necessity that films like this one continue to be shot. There is no glamor or dignity in leading miserable lives. So it is showed as it should be for an audience of people with a critical outlook on society who become nauseous after seeing yet another blockbuster made with beautiful perfect people evolving in a perfect plastic world.
Extraordinary lines such as the dialog between Depardieu and the butcher at the supermarket where his wife works!
Thanks to Depardieu for taking the part and making the movie possible. I pity those who cannot see how important this cinema is for the diversity of point of views, not only aesthetically but politically in the movie industry today.
Strange and beautiful road movie, and for me that was best role of GD
ever. It reminds me about Amelie with it's French beautiful romantic
and absurd humor, while grainy filming, "real life" attitude, and
Depardieu with long hair remind me of The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke.
If you can imagine how two of them would feel combined, I think you would get this movie as a result.
There was absolutely no weak acting here.
Recommended for people who liked movies like "Pierrot le fou", "Bernie", or anyone who wants to discover french humor - a bit dark, sad, cynical, but still romantic at the same time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some time ago I helped my mom look for some missing documents that she
needed to have if she wanted to have her full pension when she retired.
It was bureaucracy hell: hurrying from one department to another; long
queues; indifferent public functionaries. A person works all his life
to survive and to have some peace in his final years, but in the end
all he has to show for is a collection of little papers that can be
lost or destroyed. So I sympathise very much with journey the
protagonist undergoes to recover his own missing documents, in Mammuth.
Gérard Depardieu plays Serge, nicknamed Mammuth (because of his size?), a man who began working at sixteen and who has reached retirement age. After a lifetime of work, he finds settling down a difficult task: he can't relate very well to his wife (Yolande Moreau), who continues to work for a minimum wage at a supermarket; he doesn't have any hobbies; and he's not good at fixing little things at home. To make matters worse (or better, depending on the perspective), Serge discovers he's missing some paperwork that enables him to receive his full pension, so he hops onto his old bike and goes out on a journey to find his former employers and to simultaneously rediscover his lost youth.
Mammuth is a serious-comic movie, full of odd-ball characters and dark humour, which tries to say something about modern labour. Minimum wages, social resentment, fiscal fraud, exploitation and the erosion of labour rights are discussed, with varying degrees of insight and success. The movie is very unbalanced and hits its targets as often as it misses them. The movie fares well during its comedy parts. But its attempt at seriousness is undermined by the superficiality of the way important matters are treated.
The movie also suffers from trying to be too many movies in one. From road movie to social satire it's an easy jump, you can mix the two together. But the filmmakers also decided to include an awkward subplot involving a bike accident in Serge's past that killed his true love (played, with usually creepy eyes, by Isabelle Adjani). And what does that have to do with Serge's quest? OK, he uses the journey to meet old friends and relive his youth, but this ties directly to the main story of a man who wasted his whole life working and who's now trying to fill it with something. It makes thematic sense. But Adjani's ghostly presence seems to belong in a horror movie or a heavy drama and I can easily imagine Mammuth working without her subplot.
In spite of the movie's shortcomings, Depardieu's performance is spotless. First all I love how unglamorous he looks in this movie. He's old, he's got long, dishevelled hair, and he's obese. And he's not shy about showing it, as his many nude scenes prove. It's so rare to see characters without perfect bodies in movies (except to be the target of bad jokes), that Depardieu's shabby looks already make this movie stand out.
But it's Depardieu's acting that deserves attention. The movie isn't anything special but Depardieu makes it soar above mediocrity. He took an incoherent screenplay and transformed himself into a moody, brusque, but likable working class guy. With Serge's rough manners and dry humour guiding us through the movie, Mammuth becomes a palatable experience. Fans of solid performances will enjoy it, and fans of Depardieu must watch it. Otherwise my suggestion is to give this movie a pass.
there are ways and ways to tell a story. Here the two talented directors tried to prove to everyone that everyone's worth watching. like many movies, this one, depending mainly on your mood at the precise time you "encounter" it, will either disgust you or mesmerize you. I sort of loved it, from the beginning till the very end. Pathetics scenes are meant to be pathetic, showing us all of our lives are meaningless and ridiculous from time to time. Though I'm not much into Adjani, Yolande Moreau's acting, for instance is astounding, and unique, almost moving in its "uselessness". The thing is you have to throw away all your prejudices against "people of no importance" before watching this, because if you don't, you will be indeed disappointed and/or upset about losing your time and your money. gave it 8/10, because of its originality, nasty yet tender humor and Yolande Moreau's lines.
Perhaps if you're a devoté of what used to be called art-house films this movie might not seem so different to you. Otherwise, it is likely to strike the average mover-goer accustomed to average movies as very strange indeed. Much if the dialogue is delivered in a very dead-pan style. Some of the cinematography, however, is really both very original and very beautiful. These are not introspective characters. They sometimes aggravate us because they don't think about their situation and are constantly astounded by what happens. This leaves them the victim of government bureaucracies that are simply too complicated for them to understand. You are unlikely to identify with these characters. Often you wonder whether to take them as mocking caricatures or sympathetic portraits. Still, the movie almost always held me, which is more than I can say for many more "normal" movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of all, you're not going to watch a typical French movie here. So
don't get mistaken by the actors list (Gérard Depardieu, Isabelle
Adjani...). Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern, the
writers/directors, are mostly known from their characters in the TV
show named "Groland", but their movies are less famous. If you never
heard about "Aaltra", "Avida" or "Louise-Michel", then you'll probably
encounter this kind of movie for the first time.
This isn't a glamorous story with pretty people. The acting/dialogs feels quite real, with their silences and boring/silly situations. Most of the characters are a bit nuts or flawed. The rhythm is slow, but so is the main character, and it's hard not to get attached to him and his simplicity.
This is the story of Serge, a somewhat depressed simple-minded butcher who's just retired and is asked to find old salary papers to get his full pension. For that, his wife, the strong character in their couple, sends him to take a trip on his old bike while leaving her at home. No need to say his trip won't exactly go as planned and he will mostly revisit his young adulthood while encountering a number of atypical people.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I came to this movie armed with no prior knowledge of the content, not even knowing that Isabelle Adjani was featured; the main selling point in my case was the great actress Yolande Moreau and I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that the writer-director team were also responsible for Louise-Michel, a vehicle for Moreau from 2008. It was, I found, referential, the central premise of Depardieu searching for documentary evidence of his work record harks back to Pinter's The Caretaker where the eponymous character refers more than once to 'my papers in Sidcuo' and the bizarre aspect of the film reminded one of Bertrand Blier's Buffet Froid which also featured Depardieu. Another fine actress, Anna Magloulis, turns in a fine cameo but Depardieu shoulders the lion's share of the weight as a man who has never taken a day off work in forty five years but unfortunately has spent those years in one dead-end job after another, some of them 'under the table' which is not much help in a bureaucracy when a pension is at stake. The main thrust of the film is a series of picaresque encounters some hit, some miss. Nice satire.
MAMMUTH (dir. Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine) Gerard Depardieu stars in this art house film about a man who has recently retired from a job at a slaughterhouse, but needs verification of his previous work history to receive a full pension. He takes his 1973 Munch Mammut 1200 motorcycle on a journey across France to visit his old job sites in hopes of obtaining the necessary paperwork, and along the way meets an interesting assortment of oddball characters. When he meets his niece he is introduced to the world of 'naive art', and her tiny cottage is an homage to this curious and strikingly odd brand of folk art. This is a strangely fascinating and unconventional film that was clearly made for aesthetic reasons rather than box office appeal. Nominated for the Golden Bear at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival.
Lets just concentrate on one small matter The knowingness of the filmmakers is apparent with there choice of bike. At the time Serge would have been a biker this would have been an aspiration for a European working man that was possible of fulfilment. In his comatose state the world moved on and his icon becomes a forgotten relic as many of the Mammuths did. Out of touch he would be unaware that the bike has now become a cult and consequently recently accrued great value. I have also had my Sidcup moments and in a sort of way also been redeemed by art so I understand that sector of the film, although perhaps in this film is slightly unbalances the structure And then Yolande Moreau can make shaving an armpits so moving that I cried.
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