Guest Post: The Films of Jean Dujardin
Day two of this week’s guest post. Just because Impassionedcinema is on Vacation, doesn’t mean quality editorials have to stop. Today we have Scott Lawlor from FrontRoomCinema sharing his reviews of Jean Dujardin’s Spy Spoofs, OSS 117. Enjoy!
Firstly I would like to thank Max for asking me to provide him with a post to see him over his well deserved Christmas Break. I was totally honored to fill in for Max, who is probably one of the nicest bloggers you will ever meet.
Obviously when someone asks you to write something for them, you go completely into panic mode! WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE? Well luckily I have been riding on a little wave of excitement for an Actor that is finally getting his rewards for all his hard work, Jean Dujardin.
Now if I had put this together a year ago a lot of you would probably have have shrugged your shoulders and read on. But this year is certainly the year of the Frenchman. His latest film THE ARTIST is set to win many awards through the season, and has already picked up some very prestigious ones, including Best Actor at Cannes!
But I am not here today to talk about The Artist, even though I was completely charmed by the silent movie, no, I am here to talk to you about another project by Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin, OSS117…
The pair have made two of these films together, the first Cairo: Nest of Spies was released in 2006 and the second, Lost in Rio was in 2009. They are camp period spoof spy films that perfectly encapsulate the era they are set in.
Now I bet you are thinking that OSS117 sounds very much like a rip off of James Bond 007 right? Well actually they are not, and it seems that 007 came after the original OSS117 novels were written. Jean Bruce wrote the first novel featuring Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (or OSS117) in 1949, where as James Bond was first penned in 1953 by Ian Flemming.
Anyway, I am going off the subject. No matter who came first there is no doubt in my mind who is more stylish, camper, and has the best laugh, OSS117. Here are my mini reviews of the two films…
OSS117 – Cairo : Nest of Spies
Set in 1955, Jean Dujardin stars in the titular role, the French top spy, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, OSS117. De La Bath is assigned to Cairo when his best friend and fellow agent Jack Jefferson is murdered in the city. Posing as the head of a local poultry company OSS117 liaises with local contact Larmina, played by Berenice Bejo (also from The Artist) and quickly uncovers a nest of spies that includes an English operative, a vengeful Princess and a rabble rousing Imam.
As I mentioned above Hazanavicius perfectly captures the look and feel of the 1950s, complete with furniture bashing fight scenes, scantily clad women, a perfect and groovy soundtrack and brightly colored sets. Essentially this like a French version of Get Smart. Both OSS117 and Max Smart are oblivious to all around them and could have been twin brothers!
Dujardin puts in an amazing turn as De la Bath, he is a womanizer, a crack shot and has some very suspiciously fond memories of his fallen friend Jack, now I am not normally a fan of flashbacks, but the ones supplied here are an absolute hoot. Dujardin is also a gifted and crafted comedian, and he delivers his lines with a brilliant deadpan style that will just reduce you to giggles. Even just a flick of the eyebrow or a cheeky grin will have you melting at the knees.
The script is packed to the rafters with very funny lines and sight gags, a fight scene with live chickens is brilliantly executed, and the way that OSS117 reacts to a sexy cat fight is sheer genius. The humor is so delightfully non-pc that it makes a refreshing and yet charming change.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is a delightfully funny comedy that’s a treat from start to finish.
Next we are on to the sequel, but can a second film ever be as good as the first trailblazer? Well Hazanavicius gives it a pretty good go!
OSS117 : Lost in Rio
We have now moved on 12 years and this time OSS117 is sent to Rio with orders to buy a microfilm that contains a list of French collaborators in the Second World War, from a former Nazi, Von Zimmel
Once in Rio, OSS117 meets up with his equally bigoted American counterpart, Bill Trumendous and reluctantly gets teamed up with a female Mossad agent Dolores, who wants to put Von Zimmel on trial for War Crimes. The pair decide that the best way to get to Von Zimmel is through his hippy son Heinrich, so they set off to find him, battling crocodiles, offing seductresses and dodging bullets from vengeful chinese soldiers (trying to get revenge for one of OSS117‘s earlier missions) along the way.
As with Cairo before it, Rio is painstakingly detailed and perfectly recreates the looks and feel of the 1960s. Again Dujardin is on top form delivering a pitch perfect performance that is pure comedy gold. I really wish that more people would see these films as OSS117 deserves to be up there with Clouseau or Austin Powers. I really cannot imagine any other actor that can get away with the sexist, bigoted and outrageously non-PC lines. He pulls off the perfect balance of suave and clueless that will have you in stitches.
The script again is razor sharp and Hazanavisius pulls off some fantastic set pieces, like where OSS117 unwittingly get’s involved in a beach orgy, or a hospital chase scene. Very funny.
There is a darker tone with this film though. OSS117 is starting to look like a fish out of water, the world is moving on and becoming more liberal but he is not. You feel slightly more embarrassed for him than you do in the first film.
OSS 117: Lost in Rio is a thoroughly enjoyable, frequently hilarious spy spoof with a terrific comic turn by the great Jean Dujardin. Highly Recommended
I implore all to see these films, even if it is so you can understand how good The Artist is, and what a brilliant comedic actor Jean Dujardin is.
[Written by: Scott Lawlor from FrontRoomCinema]