Micmacs, or to give it its full French title, Micmacs à tire-larigot, is the sixth feature from French auteur Jean-Pierre Jeunet. A comic tale of revenge and the joy of personal expression, it’s a film that sits admirably alongside Jeunet’s previous offerings Amélie and Delicatessen. Fans of Jeunet will enjoy immersing themselves in the director’s trademark visual style and quirkiness while newcomers will come away hungry to check out more of his work.
Bullets Over Rue Bourgogne
In a dizzyingly fast-paced prologue, we learn the heartfelt backstory of Bazil, a video-store clerk played by French comedian Dany Boon. Orphaned after his father is killed by a landmine, Bazil becomes the victim of a drive-by shooting that leaves a bullet lodged in his brain, an ever-looming threat that could kill him any minute. Discharged from hospital, he finds himself redundant and homeless, reduced to bumming around the beautifully realised Parisian streets. It’s then – thanks to Jeunet’s characteristic use of fate and chance – that he finds himself living in a fantastical slum beneath a scrapyard populated by characters familiar to anyone who’s seen any of Jeunet’s previous films – a ragtag bunch of whimsical dreamers, lost, ostracised yet charmingly hopeful. There’s an sculptor creating Heath Robinson-style art from scrapheap junk, a cold-proof contortionist and a woman with a very precise eye. Finally feeling he’s been accepted, Bazil begins to plot his revenge on the unscrupulous arms dealers that robbed him of a father and inadvertently caused a bullet to be lodged in his brain.
An Acquired Taste?
Although Jeunet’s fairytale storylines and self-conscious quirkiness can occasionally be hard to stomach (there’s a vein of tweeness in most of his work that borders on the cloying), Micmacs carries off its style with charm and panache. It’s a visual feast, from the aforementioned Parisian streets (so sumptuous you can practically drink them) to the bric-a-brac madness of the scrapyard, the piece is put together with such a keen eye it’s difficult not to be impressed. Then there’s the performances. Dany Boon’s Bazil is another fine addition to Jeunet’s list of charming misfits, bringing a Buster Keaton-esque clownishness and careful vulnerability to the role that echoes Audrey Tautou’s breathtaking Amélie. The supporting cast, including Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon as Fracasse (trust us, you’ll recognise his face) is equally good, mixing physical comedy and understated pathos perfectly.
The plot, such as it is, has more twists and turns than the Indy 500 with bizarre coincidences, fateful meetings and laugh-out-loud surprises all driving the audience forwards towards a surprising, satisfying conclusion. It’s a testament to Jeunet’s skill that he can have so many balls in the air without missing a beat, and while some might find the twee nature of the material somewhat offputting, it’s difficult not to be charmed into enjoying the ride. However, it’s likely to be out on limited release, so snap up a ticket sharpish as soon as you see it.