Directed and Written by Dany Boon
I don’t think the basic premise of this film is hard to guess. It revolves around Chris O’Dowd’s French doppelgänger, Romain (Danny Boon), who in addition to being a ‘superchondriac’, seems to have a myriad of mental problems in addition to this. His fear of germs leads to some seriously funny scenes, and best of all the humour is varied. I lost count of the times I laughed out loud – this is a very, very funny film, and the humour is most definitely un-western. Colour me a fan of French comedy then! What is truly great about this character is that his personality is not simply based around the title of the film. He is a true eccentric, and the writers of this film have injected a ton of personality into his character, creating a thoroughly unique person. Kudos. Another fantastic aspect of the film is the relationships he forms with other characters, all so different, yet all hilarious in some way. All the acting here is extremely solid, and this only adds to the humour as many reactions to Romain’s insane looking behaviour are priceless.
This film’s biggest strength is not only its comedy, but in its character development and writing. It isn’t just Danny Boon who is memorable, the entire main cast are and all are involved in many funny scenes. The character arc of Romain is especially well done, as he slowly becomes a different person after starting the film as a truly insane man. The film’s next biggest strength is that despite the title, which is the basis for the first act and a recurring theme that doesn’t cease to make you smile, the movie goes in a very unexpected direction at the beginning of the second act. Suddenly the straight comedy of the first thirty or so minutes turns into a comedic French mystery/thriller film. It is very bizarre and surreal, and totally implausible (and unpredictable!). However, it fits neatly alongside the crazy behaviour of Romain, and is a cue for more strange situations that build in intensity, yet at the same time, Romain’s insane fear of germs and becoming sick is a constant motif that didn’t fail once for me. I couldn’t stop laughing, the situations were so absurd and creative, and the humour is ranged variety, from pure slapstick to witty remarks to heavy sarcasm. Yep, I am definitely a big fan of French comedy now, I need to find some more movies like this.
One memorable scene involves Romain trying to catch a train… and while on the train he desperately tries to avoid touching anything, looking like a busker balancing act as the train shakes and rattles about. Another great scene that you can see above involves an MRI machine, and I was in pain laughing at it. Almost all Romain’s interaction with other people is funny in some way, because this guy is OCD on full-display, terrified of germs and informing everyone he comes across how easy it is to get sick. Constantly disinfecting his hands, his warnings to almost every person he speaks to (including potential dates) are again hilarious as he casually explains exactly how germs can spread and cause sickness. In fact, even characters without lines make you laugh as they react to watching this bizarre behaviour. I’m chuckling now writing this, which is always a good sign for the comedic quality of a film. There are many truly fantastic, ridiculous and hilarious set-pieces.
The relationship Romain has with his doctor is fantastically written and other great part of this film. He considers the doctor a close friend (much to the doctor’s chagrin, but Romain has no one else), and this lopsided relationship is more fodder for endless hysterical scenes, whether the two are two arguing or playfully getting along – the latter being something that clearly irritates the doctor’s wife when early in the film the doctor agrees to let Romain stay for the night at his house. Their relationship and the doctor’s character is as well-written as the character of Romain; the man possesses a unique personality and one gets the sense that the writers of this film really focused on character development and personality quirks, as almost every character has some sort of amusing flaw that keeps the movie’s momentum flowing and the laughs coming.
IN A NUTSHELL?
The greatest thing about this film is that it doesn’t just focus on Romain and his obsession with being sick. The massive turn into a comedic thriller was most certainly unexpected, and that combo is a genre I don’t usually like, but here it works to perfection as the story gradually becomes more insane. If I could point out a flaw of this, it would be that the chain of events are barely plausible. But hey, it’s a movie, right? Bloody hilarious start to finish, I am fairly sure I annoyed the other people in the cinema while watching this one, sorry guys! That hasn’t happened since I saw The Wolf On Wall Street, so I think this flick is in good company! Highly recommended, especially if you enjoy European humour. Hell, I recommend this to anyone who likes foreign film, as this is better than any American comedy I have seen since… well, The Wolf on Wall Street. Intelligent writing had lead to a truly unique and funny experience. Danny Boon is a new name to me, imdb here I come!
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