A French public servant from Provence is banished to the far North. Strongly prejudiced against this cold and inhospitable place, he leaves his family behind to relocate temporarily there, with the firm intent to quickly come back.
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Vincent is about to become a father. At a meeting with childhood friends he announces the name for his future son. The scandalous name ignites a discussion which surfaces unpleasant matters from the past of the group.
Alexandre de La Patellière,
Although living a comfortable life in Salon-de-Provence, a charming town in the South of France, Julie has been feeling depressed for a while. To please her, Philippe Abrams, a post office administrator, her husband, tries to obtain a transfer to a seaside town, on the French Riviera, at any cost. The trouble is that he is caught red-handed while trying to scam an inspector. Philippe is immediately banished to the distant unheard of town of Bergues, in the Far North of France. Leaving his child and wife behind, the crucified man leaves for his frightening destination, a dreadfully cold place inhabited by hard-drinking, unemployed rednecks, speaking an incomprehensible dialect called Ch'ti. Philippe soon realizes that all these ideas were nothing but prejudices and that Bergues is not synonymous with hell... Written by
A really, really charming film. Charming being the word for movies with really simple plots, very down-to-earth stakes, and the ability to leave you with a big G-rated smile on your face afterwards. If you like cross-cultural fish-out-of-water movies such as My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, you're going to love this story of a postmaster who gets reassigned to the apparently misunderstood (in many senses) northern region of France, and how lives change accordingly.
But what really impressed me the most were the subtitles. The English subtitles amazingly captured all the nuances of the convoluted wordplay that was obviously happening on screen. This becomes an even more impressive feat when you consider that much of the verbal fun of the movie comes from the various misunderstandings between the French-speaking lead character and the folks who speak in the northern provincial "Schticks" dialect. Because of this added layer of complexity, I realized that capturing these dynamics cannot be the product of any ordinary clerical translation job.
And it turns out I was right. I later read that the director, Dany Boon, actually took an active role in ensuring that all the subtitles for the different languages properly and lovingly reflected the nuances and intent of the on screen banter. With truly impressive results.
So kudos to Boon for paying attention to this particular detail. Oftentimes, foreign audiences miss out on much of the seeming in-jokes that movies play for their local audiences. "Schticks" made it a point to share its world with everyone else. Great job.
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