Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Micmacs’ and the problems when a director has too distinct a signature

Posted on July 25, 2019


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Micmacs (2009) is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director best known for Delicatessen and Amélie – and if you didn’t know, going in, that this was his work, you’d know in the first five minutes. Look at the shot where a woman receives news that her husband has died in the Western Sahara while attempting to defuse a landmine. As the camera pulls back and she comes into view, she’s frozen. She could be a still-life painting – her left hand holding the telephone receiver, her right hand covering her open mouth, her sorrowful eyes staring into space. Most distinctive of all is her whimper. The sound is that of a muffled cuckoo clock going off at the hour. Or maybe she’s silent and there really is a muffled cuckoo clock going off at the hour.

If you thought this was whimsical, wait till you get to the scene – a few minutes later on screen, a few decades later in the timeframe of the story – where this woman’s thirtysomething son, Bazil, is introduced. He’s watching The Big Sleep on TV, mouthing the lines as the characters on screen say them. (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall have been dubbed into French, and this adds its own layer of whimsy!) The film cuts from Bogart’s car to a car on the streets outside Bazil’s office. A motorbike follows. There’s a shootout, and when Bazil foolishly steps out to investigate the noise, a stray bullet lodges itself in his head. A tragedy? No. Again, like the scene with the whimpering mother, the quirky stylisation tweaks the tone. Bazil falls as Bogart and Bacall continue to converse inside his television set.

Continued at the link above.

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