(Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis)
Outwardly a simple comedy about a postal executive relocated from Provence to northern Pas de Calais, yet Dany Boon uncovers layers of class and racial snobbery in modern French society. A plethora of local characters gives warmth and humour, and the skilful subtitles ensure that few of the dialogue’s nuances are lost. (Cert 12A)
Dir: Dany Boon 106 mins France 2008
We welcome Ann Miller of Leicester University French Department to introduce this screening, which will start at 7.30 p.m.
Thursday January 13th 2011
BIENVENUE CHEZ LES CH’TIS
(Welcome to the Sticks)
France 2008 102mins Cert 12A
Trading on French regional prejudices (that some critics thought might baffle non-Gallic audiences), this broad farce broke many national and international box office records when it was released in April 2008. Portraying an image of contemporary French life, it revolves around the story of a Provencal postmaster (with a wife besotted by life on the Riviera) who is unwillingly relocated to the bleak town of Bergues in the Nord Pas-de-Calais. Because, in its development, the film is largely devoid of economic, social and political problems, it has similarly been compared to Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (only marginally more fanciful) 2001 blockbuster Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulin, another runaway hit with French audiences, despite that film’s perceived ‘whitewashed’ description of Parisian life.
Popular stage comedian Dany Boon and his co-writers may be accused of evasiveness (if their movie was to have real satirical bite, it could have, say, tackled instances of contemporary prejudice rather more unpleasant than just the played-for-laughs North/South misunderstandings) but it’s unlikely that any movie other than the one their screen play produced would have depicted such a warmly optimistic view of human nature and also have provided them with such lucrative results!
With a marvellous cast of unlikely characters and dialectically challenged yokels, this well observed tale, having perhaps some resonances for modern-day Britain, should bring a smile to the face on a damp January evening.
Acknowledgements : Wally Hammond, Time Out, Neil Young, Neil Young’s Film Lounge
“A visitor cries twice up North – once on his arrival and once at his departure” Anon, Old Ch’tis proverb
“A nice, heart-warming little comedy that, to general astonishment, has destroyed all comers at the French
box office. It probably won’t have much play outside France.” Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
(Well, never to be pigeon-holed, we’re screening it here in Abingdon!)
Philippe Abrams – Kad Merad
Antione Bailleul – Dany Boon
Julie Abrams – Zoé Félix
Rapael Abrams – Lorenzo Ausilia-Forët
Annabelle Deconninck – Anne Marivin
Director – Dany Boon
Screenplay – Dany Boon, Alexandre Charlot, Franck Magnier
Cinematography – Pierre Aïm
Original Music – Philippe Rombi
Producers – Claude Berri, Jérôme Seydoux
We welcome Ann Miller, Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Leicester, to ABCD to introduce and discuss a French language film for the fifteenth time. Ann is an expert in bande dessinée (French language comic strip) and French cinema.
“Where does one start … ?”
“One of the best ever! Very funny but touching, too. Great impetus to it all.”
“What an excellent film – probably the best foreign film we’ve ever had. Congratulations to Ann Miller and the Committee for selecting this.”
“I have not laughed so much in years and did not even realise it was a comedy beforehand. Knocks British equivalents into a cocked hat!”
“Excellent but Ann Miller’s introduction and discussion afterwards were very helpful.”
“Ann Miller’s talk gave insight into this fantastic French farce. Despite the mainstream approach for the look and feel of the film, it had enough heart to make you enjoy the light-hearted tomfoolery.”
“Great film, great presentation and challenges to the audience. Thanks.”
“Such true comedy. It must have been real fun to make – the shots with the end credits were a touch of genius.”
“Third time I’ve seen [this] and it gets better every time. They obviously enjoyed making it!”
“Why has it taken the French so long to make this film?”
“Charles Laughton, move over. Does June Whitfield realise she has a French double?”
“This film was recommended to me by German friends – I wonder what their subtitles were like.”
“Great subtitles – shame about the rather tame ending. Up to then, the film was different and imaginative [in its] use of language.”
“I think if this film were to be made in the UK, it would be far funnier. Not exactly a film [endorsed] by the [French] Tourist Board!”