Brutus vs César
- 1h 27min
Faced with the tyranny of Caesar who acts as absolute master over Rome, Senators Rufus and Cassius form a plot to assassinate him.Faced with the tyranny of Caesar who acts as absolute master over Rome, Senators Rufus and Cassius form a plot to assassinate him.Faced with the tyranny of Caesar who acts as absolute master over Rome, Senators Rufus and Cassius form a plot to assassinate him.
I suspect Kheiron has enough common sense to figure out that no half-brain will command laughter from such a stupid joke, but the film aims low, it aims at the chuckle, the little one you almost accidentally exude when a joke is so lame that you laugh at the guts it took to put it in the final cut. That joke made me chuckle or smile but the more such jokes where used, the lower the film sunk in comedic abysses I didn't think were possible. Even Michael Youn's films didn't bother with quality plots but he had standards, even the dreadful "RRRrrrrr!" had the merit to set a realistic design of the prehistoric era, even "The Daltons" ventured into fantasy with a meager but still edible narrative... "Brutus vs. Caesar" had no story, it's a barbecue of little shish kebab jokes up the skewer of lousy vignettes where Rome is set in Morocco and Gauls seems as accessible as the next bus station.
After a round of heartfelt albeit not successful films, I figured Kheiron's priority wasn't into convincing the viewer that this was the real Rome -I'm telling you, the film aims low- he doesn't try to emulate "Life of Brian" or classic French peplum spoofs like "A Quarter to Two B. C." or "Mission Cleopatra" because at least these movies put us in a semblance of realism to better detach us from it, constructing before deconstructing, but "Brutus vs. Caesar" sets the tone pretty quickly, this is a variation of Rome that only exists for the sake of benign chuckles, it's a sketchy cheap Carthage-looking Rome begging us to suspend our disbelief because... it's only a joke, but the jokes aren't even funny to begin with.
Kheiron is an intelligent person all right and I guess he didn't have the right budget and one could appreciate that the film subverted so many tropes and featured a revisionist take on Roman history with Black soldiers, where Vercingetorix is played by an Arab and so was Caesar - at least Ramzy Bedia is having fun playing the megalomaniac dictator- and Spartacus is a geek who went too hard on Chips and sodas and women are part of the Senate. These anachronistic touches are like the barbed wire preventing any critic to go hard on the film, because if you ever criticize it, you might be labeled a reactionary... but what are these changes for? What do they provide? Are these characters interesting?
If you make a woman senator, give her a substantial thing to do. If you have a TV star on your cast, don't just take them for granted and do something about it. No, it's all an exercice in style and nothing else with a bland character who's got nothing to offer, except falling after running. That's the kind of running gag the film can desperately rely on: Brutus can't run. And it doesn't get any better. In one scene a rich plebeian tells his female slave that she's got no brain, the right pay-off is ruined by her explaining the situation to Spartacus who keeps comically missing the point. The film sabotages its own jokes.
And the romance that grows between Kheiron and Lina El Arabi Is played straight as if we were supposed to root for these characters because they were the heroes... it didn't make any sense at all and it's a shame that French cinema should fund such duds while many struggling writers try to come up with elaborate screenplays ; today, the goofiest adaptation of any kiddies comic-book with a bankable face is worth more than whatever efforts some decent creative minds with no connections can pull.
"Brutus vs. Caesar" is a disaster that can't get away with the the so-called second degree, there are a few jokes here and there but the gags are like the setting: cheap, lowbrow and phony, with a tedious story and an editing that can't save the film from its atrocious look and idiotic directing, the characters are bland and the film is obviously designed to elicit some strong responses from some fans of Kheiron who don't regard the real history of France or Rome as their own, it's a sort of appropriation of French history and geography by a minority (to which I happen to belong by the way) which is okay in my book if it was funny but would have the opposite been accepted? I don't think so.
I don't want to get into that turf but there's something very unpleasant in that mocking of classic history that makes me wonder how Lhermitte, Darmon or (et tu?) Pierre Richard ended up in this mess.. even Kheiron who strikes me as a comedian worthy enough of our attention not to try to be a poor man's Youn or Debbouze.
... oh and yes, the film had the guts to end on that cliffhanger, well, let me tell you something, the only thing that should hang over a cliff is any script containing the sequel and who ever holds it should just drop it and say "Scriptum delenda est". (yes and that I'm a Latinist made me hate the film even more).
- Jun 17, 2021