Re:View – ‘Agathe Clery’
Okay, from time to time I like to draw your attention to movies you might not have seen, and this one has been, frankly, a bugger to find. There are only three reviews online and none in English.
Why so difficult?
A hit in France and a very funny film from the director of ‘Tatie Danielle’, it’s shot in a defiantly stylised manner. Agathe is successful, tough, white and a subtle racist, in that modern, largely unspoken way people have of making their feelings felt in offices. When she succumbs to Addison’s Disease, her pigmentation starts to darken, and she’s faced with all of her most horrible prejudices.
Very quickly, she loses everything she holds dear, and all the skin lightener in the world isn’t going to change her new look. Agathe’s only way out to to co-opt her prejudiced best friend and her racist parents into a plan to win back her life. And change her attitude.
Making jokes about foreigners is a very tricky thing (although when done well you get hits like the hilarious ‘Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis’) but the film wears a lovely liberal heart on its sleeve and is a joy from start to finish. Did I mention that it’s also has several musical numbers, including a Michael Jackson parody? Or that the wonderful Jean Rochefort finally gets to dance?
Typically, Pathe, who couldn’t find an audience with an electron microscope and mint surgical tweezers, didn’t even bother to release the film here, and the only copy I could find with subtitles is available from Dubai (along with a lot of world cinema we never get to see). Here’s the specially shot teaser (not in the film). Sadly, I can’t find the big dance number featuring hundreds of commuters alighting from Eurostar…