November 1918. A few days before the Armistice, Édouard Péricourt saves Albert Maillard's life. These two men have nothing in common but the war. Lieutenant Pradelle, by ordering a senseless assault, destroys their lives while binding them as companions in misfortune. On the ruins of the carnage of WWI, condemned to live, the two attempt to survive. Thus, as Pradelle is about to make a fortune with the war victims' corpses, Albert and Édouard mount a monumental scam with the bereaved families' commemoration and with a nation's hero worship.
November 1919. Two survivors of the trenches meet. One, Edouard Péricourt, the son of a good family disfigured during the conflict, is a genius draftsman, the other, Albert Maillard, is a modest accountant. They join forces to set up a war memorial scam.
Albert Dupontel became known for his crazy and squeaky comedies, not to everyone's taste. Voluntarily poorly made at the beginning, his biting comedies gradually gained in artistic quality. For example, the film "Neuf mois ferme", which preceded this one, was already distinguished by its elaborate direction and impressive formal finds, which only made the satirical background more abrasive. He does even better with "Au revoir là-haut", a very successful adaptation of Pierre Lemaître's best-selling novel. A dazzling opening sequence, brilliant craftsmanship, a convincing period reconstruction, and high-quality special effects: Albert Dupontel brilliantly confirms that he has become a major filmmaker.
What'is great is that being at the helm of a superproduction does mean he renounces his convictions: in this film co-written with Pierre Lemaître, as in others of which he is the sole author, he questions conformism, hypocrisy and authoritarianism while praising, as a good self-respecting anarchist, personal morality and the responsible individual's recourse to his own resources. Dupontel's main target is the self-righteousness of the time (the grandiloquent whining about the dead of 14-18, whose massacre is made up under the more presentable names of heroism and sacrifice) end the least we can say is that he bites home. Through his "sacrilegious heroes," he asks a question to which everyone will answer in their own way: who is more guilty, the two crooks, a gifted artist with a broken face and a crafty entrepreneur forsaken by the authorities, or those who turned hundreds of thousands of young people full of life into cannon fodder?
The cast is excellent and without wanting to insult the spirit of the troupe shown by all the actors, we will nevertheless singularize two performances particularly out of the ordinary: Niels Arestrup as a dominating and icy father and Laurent Lafitte, properly terrifying as a sadistic military man who, after the war, turns into a... sadistic civilian.
A deserved success, both public and critical, for Albert Dupontel, who has now entered the big league.
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