JEAN-PIERRE Jeunet’s films divide punters. For every enthusiastic Amélie fan there is a viewer who finds the movie a little too eager to please. Micmacs isn’t likely to change anybody’s mind either way. After the relatively straight-up A Very Long Engagement, the director is back to crazed antique quirks for this slightly uncertain combination of broad humour and political satire.
The amiable, facially flexible Dany Boon plays a video store employee whose life gets weirdly altered when a stray bullet lodges in his brain. Later, through a series of convenient mishaps, he becomes part of a gang of eccentrics who, for reasons too complex to list, make it their business to embarrass the sinister munitions conglomerate that manufactured Dany’s bullet.
The firm’s executives inhabit a world that looks somewhat like our own. They have computers, drive flash cars and recline on gorgeously sleek minimalist furniture. Meanwhile the gang behave like characters in an unhinged children’s story from the inter-war years.
Yolande Moreau, fresh from her triumph in Séraphine, has too little to do as the apple-cheeked maternal figure. Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon turns up as an enthusiastic human cannonball. Nothing they eat, wear or sit upon looks as if it has ever been on nodding terms with the 21st century.
As ever, Jeunet, shooting with his customary short lenses, manages to spread invention and entertaining mayhem all about the screen. The director has always had something of the carnival showman about him, and the exhibits remain as diverting as ever.
That said, there is no getting away from the fact that Micmacs – particularly in its fussy middle act – is fatally short on story and overly reluctant to clarify why the gang are behaving as they do. By the time the incongruously preachy finale creaks into the frame, many viewers will have found their minds drifting towards the exit. Ingenious stuff, nonetheless.
A semi-barrel of laughs: Dominique Pinon in Micmacs