Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


OSS 117: Nest of Spies

Yesterday's SIFF viewing included OSS 117: Nest of Spies. The SIFF website summarized it like this:

Currently a box-office sensation in France. Special Agent OSS 117 pops up in Cairo, 1955, to monitor the Suez Canal, check up on the Brits and Soviets, burnish France's reputation, quell a fundamentalist rebellion and broker peace in the Middle East. "No problem," replies Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath - think James Bond crossed with Maxwell Smart and Austin Powers, with a little bit of The Naked Gun antics thrown in for good measure.

On hand to introduce the film at its North American debut were actress Berenice Bejo and director Michel Hazanavicius. Neither spoke very much English and so we didn't stay for the Q&A afterward, but the audience responded very favorably to having them on hand and went wild with applause when Bejo's name rolled by in the credits. They both claimed to be very excited to have the opportunity to bring the movie to an American audience and I think the SIFF crowd responded with plenty of enthusiasm. Laughs abounded.

Jean Dujardin plays oafish spy Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath with abandon. Part spoof, part homage, the film hits every target dead on. The retro setting, costumes, musical score, even the fight choreography are pitch perfect. Dujardin's performance makes the character of 117 equal parts goofy and despicable, suave and ridiculous; he is benign but cringe-inducing, ignorant, self-assured, yet childlike. Utterly stupid and incredibly lucky. Hilarious to watch.

The plot of the film is paper thin and disappears entirely in places but that's no criticism. We were too busy laughing to care about the resolution of the plot anyway.

There's still one afternoon showing of this film on the SIFF schedule for you Seattleites who have the flexibility to cut out and see a show on Monday. It's good fun and I recommend it.


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