The film capital is at our backdoor, and the beauty of that scenery is that it’s not limited to works by and about Americans.
City of Lights-City of Angels (COL-COA), which celebrated the 14th annual Week of French Film Premieres in Hollywood is a case in point. With 28 new feature films and 20 new shorts in the competition, this year’s COL-COA showcases French cinema’s ability to constantly reinvent itself.
And in honor of the French cinematic expertise, the Directors Guild of America Theatres now bear the names of three masters of French Cinema this year: Jean Renoir, well known for films including (“The Human Beast,” “La Marsillaise,” “The Grand Illusion” and the “Rules of the Game”); Francois Truffaut, whose award winning films includes (“The 400 Blows,” “The Wild Child,” and Academy Award winning “Day for Night”); and Jean-Pierre Melville, author of “Moby Dick,” whose films includes (“Bob the Gambler,” “The Godson,” “The Red Circle” and “Dirty Money”).
We are aware of the fact the French are well known for their culinary cuisine such as foie gras, duck confit, Meaux mustard, cornichons, and fleur de sel, but who knew they are capable of pricking our laughter causing exocrine gland or even our funny bone?
“Le Vilain” (The Villain) written and directed by Albert Dupontel, was one of the highlights of the COL-COA, that left you crying with laughter. The film is about Sidney Thomas [Albert Dupontel],who has always been a rotten individual, even as a child. Now on the run after a botched bank robbery, he sees no other solution but to go visit his estranged mother Maniette [Catherine Frot, “The Page Turner,” “The Dinner Game”], to hide out at her home. Maniette is intially happy to see her son after 20 years. But soon, she has an epiphany and realizes all the evil he has done since childhood. With the belief that her own life is cursed for giving birth to such a villain, she decides to give her son some of his own medicine.
A burlesque-style good versus evil struggle ensues between mother and son, but they ultimately bond in order to stop a group of dishonest promoters from buying their house and the whole neighborhood.
Maniette stumbles upon Sidney’s hidden storage in his room that has remained the same since he left the nest 20 years ago. She also discovers that he’s a con artist–report cards that have been forged with good grades and comments that were actually the opposite; and stealing the neighborhood doctor’s prescription pad and writing out prescriptions. This gets Dr. Jean William (Nicolas Marie’) sued, and he loses his practice. Maniette attempts to right all of Sidney’s wrongs. She invites the Dr. Williams to tend to Sidney’s gun shot wound in his shoulder.
Granted the doctor has not worked on a patient in over 20 years, and in a priceless scene of nervousness and comedy, the doctor must visit Sidney a couple more times to treat the wound.
Producer Catherine Bozorgan says, “The intent is to have non-stop laughter throughout the entire film. It’s a pleasure to see the audience tickled at Sidney’s misfortune during the premiere here in Hollywood.”