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Drôle de samedi (1985)
So bad it's good
Have you seen "The Room" by Tommy Wiseau? This is its French-speaking counterpart. Except that it does even better than The Room: not only is this movie so bad it's good, it also boasts an impressive cast of francophone stars, who were pretty much at the peak of their fame when the movie was made, including Francis Huster, Jacques Villeret, Michel Blanc and Carole Laure. I'm not quite sure how the offbeat director managed to get all these people on board, but congratulations to him.
Perhaps he managed to play the "literary" card, as the movie is based on a short story by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Dürrenmatt's story is pretty surrealistic, and the movie follows suit. However, while the movie quickly departs from that particular story and moves on to other events, it retains its surrealistic character throughout, which as far as I can tell was not intentional, but is just the result of the amateurish writing and directing. The director's goal was, I assume, to a make a funny satire of the modern world, addressing questions such as the frantic pace of modern life, or the relations between men and women at the end of the 20th Century. Instead, what we get is an incoherent succession of scenes showing weird people talking to other weird people. Again, the characters in the movie are not supposed to be weird, but they come across as such because of the clumsy writing/direction. All through the movie, people are reciting their lines in scenes that often make little sense. As the director is not always sure how to inject humour into his scenes, a trick he often resorts to is to have his characters start uttering insults, in an over-the-top manner.
However, this movie's clumsiness is also what makes it entertaining to watch. Without wishing to reveal too much of it, here are my top three moments:
1. The scene where Villeret's character goes on a rampage in a butcher's shop. As he stabs his first victim, the director chooses to play comedic, light-hearted background music, as if to drive home the point that his movie cannot be taken seriously. After that, the director suddenly starts taking himself for John Carpenter and (at odds with everything that came before) shoots a scene designed to be suspenseful, which ends up looking farcical.
2. The scene where Francis Huster and Carole Laure walk into an empty restaurant run by three freaks (one of whom "teases" his colleague by claiming in front of everyone that his wife is fat and works as a prostitute), and are happy to have lunch there in their company.
3. The scene in a camera shop where a customer listens in silence for many minutes while the assistant explains to him all the technical details of various cameras, at the end of which the customer finally says, in a robotic tone, that he hasn't understood anything of what the assistant said, and will go and shop somewhere else.
All in all, a very entertaining piece of (unintentional) comedy!