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Let me as a preamble confess one thing: I have not read the original comic book series (though I do feel like it now). I will therefore deal with Christophe Duthuron's movie as such, without any point of comparison of any kind with Wilfrid Lupano and Paul Cauuet's source work.
The first point I would like to raise is that I enjoyed the movie very much. Not specially for its story, whose starting point is nothing new. We have indeed seen dozens of films describing a funeral and the forced gathering it entails: a group of individuals (whether relatives or friends) whose ties have loosened owing to estrangement or diverging interests, suddenly find themselves face to face again for just this circumstancial reason. Not very original maybe but on the other hand generally giving rise to works above average. Which is the case for "Les Vieux fourneaux" ("Tricky Old Dogs") as well, thanks to an impressive lot of added value, namely fleshy characters, an excellent cast, witty dialogue and a knack for mixing comedy and drama, laughter and emotion. What is awesome is Christophe Duthuron and Wilfrid Lupano's facetious one liners never prevent a meaningful social commentary or a no-nonsense look on the sorry condition of today's world - and the reverse. As for the direction by newcomer Duthuron (hitherto a screenwriter and theater director), it proves quite a good surprise. For the fledgling filmmaker is not content to stage a fine screenplay and to direct top notch comedians to perfection, he also has interesting cinematic film ideas. For example the sequence in which a factory at the bottom of a valley slowly disappears under the eyes of the three old pranksters to give way to the unspoilt nature of their youth. The next second, they are seen as the brats they used to be, joyfully frolicking. Or that other scene wherein Antoine (Roland Giraud) revisits a past workers' strike whose participants in black and white are suddenly frozen while the onlooker remains in color and in movement. Or else that of a puppet show which transforms itself into an animated sequence.
Wonderfully played by a hilarious threesome of old grumpy rebels, Pierre Richard as Pierrot, the restless old anarchist, Roland Giraud as Antoine, the testy dandy, and Eddy Mitchell as Mimile, the retired globe-trotter, the film cannot but make you laugh. Add to the three musketeers'flawless performance an excellent role for an excellent actress (Alice Pol, who gets into the role of Sophie, Antoine's grandaughter, revolted like the three old men but for better reasons), Myriam Boyer (the elderly farmer hated for bad reasons) and Henri Guybet (very moving as an old industrialist who is losing his head, assuredly his greatest performance to-date) and you will have no bad surprise, the acting is invariably top notch.
A comedy for sure and a funny one at that but also a serious movie with serious themes (old age, revolt, loyalty, treachery) and a relevant social examination (the ravages of ultra-liberalism). A well made popular film which does not take people for fools. Therefore recommended.
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