If you have ever wondered (and who amongst us hasn't?) what Close Encounters of the Third Kind would have been like had it been directed by Jacques Tati, look no further than this delicious little soufflé of a movie that is not only laugh-out-loud hilarious, but also surprisingly poignant and touching. All while being virtually dialogue-free.
Fiona Gordon plays a sort of distaff version of the Richard Dreyfuss character in Encounters, who, after having gotten herself locked in a walk-in freezer at work overnight, develops a somewhat unhealthy obsession with cold and an iceberg she has envisioned. She doesn't sculpt anything in mashed potatoes, thankfully, but she does make icebergs with various household items like sheets, finally graduating to drawing a picture and enlisting the aid of a sailor (piloting a little skiff suitably named Le Titanique) to help her find the giant ice cube of her dreams.
This may sound slight, and it admittedly is. It is filmed and performed with such loving care, however, and with so many wonderfully outrageous moments of physical comedy, that its lightness and lack of "message" are two of its central winning attributes, not liabilities. Featuring langorous Tati-inspired shots of several unedited minutes punctuated by unexpected pratfalls or other non-verbal punchlines, the film rarely wavers from its sweet (sometimes bittersweet) course.
Written and directed by its three stars, Dominique Abel, Bruno Romy and Gordon, the film is a seamless interweaving of buffoonery and heart, a very rare combination that serves to point out the relative paucity of ideas coming from a lot of American comedies these days.
Parental Warning: There are two brief shots of fairly gratuitous full frontal nudity (the male version has a very funny punchline, the female, none).
The enhanced 1.78:1 image is crisp and clear. Rear projection shots look surprisingly wonderful.
The French language (such as it is--there are probably fewer than 100 words of dialogue in the entire film) stereo soundtrack is perfectly acceptable. Sound effects are excellent, especially the one involving the deaf mute towards the end of the film.
A brief production history and biographies are the only extras. The writer/director/stars managed to make this gem on a paltry 750,000 Euros.
If you are a fan of French farce, particularly of the Tati Hulot variety, you are going to love this film. Beyond that core group, though, for anyone tired of the crass joke every two minute, leering tone of so many current American comedies, this simple and effective virtual mime performance is a non pareil experience to treasure. I predict this film is going to have a very large cult audience that will only grow over time.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet