Film (1990). Constellation/UCG/Hachette Premiere with the collaboration of Sofinergie/Sofinergie 2/Investimage 2/Investimage 3. Directed and written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. Cast includes Marie-Laure Dougnac, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Ticky Holgado, Jacques Mathou, Dominique Pinon, Anne-Marie Pisani, Rufus, and Karin Viard. 99 minutes. Colour.
This French film is an Absurdist fable about Post-Holocaust life in a small, decrepit town. The setting is enclosed; little is intimated about life outside, or the nature of the apocalypse that must have occurred. The local butcher (Dreyfus) does not let his various eccentric tenants – one of whom builds gracefully cranky suicide Machines – starve; he hires transients as handymen then kills them for the meat; but the new handyman, a one-time circus clown Louison (Pinon), is attractive to the butcher's short-sighted daughter (Dougnac). She intervenes, as do the local Underground vegetarian terrorists, the Troglodists. The film is surreal, grotesque, but, given its subject matter, amazingly gentle and forgiving, and curiously accepting of the fact that society is running down completely and there seems no way, or even desire, to wind it up again. Owing much to French pop culture (its more intellectual facets, including up-market comics like Métal Hurlant) this film soon became a cult favourite, overseas as well as in France. [PN]
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