LA RANÇON DE LA GLOIRE
Dir.: Xavier Beauvois
Cast: Benoit Poelvoorde, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni, Nadine Labaki
France/Belgium/Switzerland, 114 min.
1977: Eddie, a 40 year old Belgian small-time crook, is released from prison in Vevey, Switzerland. He is going to live with his friend Osman, looking after his daughter Samira, since her mother is in hospital. Whilst Eddie gets on well with Samira, his relationship with Osman (whose life he once saved) is strained, since Eddie is still not going straight, even stealing the lights for the Christmas tree and a TV. But soon Osman has to rely on Eddie’s ‘profession’, because of a legal loophole means he has to pay over 50 000 Swiss Francs for his wife’s operation. Eddie comes up with a master plan: Charlie Chaplin had just died, and Eddie proposes to steal his corpse and ask for a ransom from the family. Osman is so desperate, that he agrees to the mad scheme. The two commit all sorts of amusing blunders along the way but Beauvois makes sure of a happy ending.
Xavier Beauvois tells his story like a fairy-tale, with the seven year old Samira being much more of an adult than the two men. Caroline Champetier’s photography is stunning, never falling to re-create the postcard-idyll of Switzerland, but showing us the grim places as well the the contrasting beauty. Performances are very convincing but Benoit Poelvoorde leads with his suberb portrait of a likeable ex-con whose heart is in the right place but can’t help slipping back into crime. Chiara Mastroianni, is shoe-horned in as the glamorous owner of the local circus, although as a love interest for Eddy, she doesn’t quite make the grade in a rather underwritten part. Michel Legrand’s music (plus Chaplin soundtracks) often help us over the the sagging middle of the film. A colourful B-Picture for children and grown-ups alike. But Beauvois makes sure of a happy-ending for Eddie in the arms of Chiara Mastroianni AS.
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