Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ciné-Club June 15 : La Chèvre

Please join us on June 15 at 6:30PM for our last Ciné Club of the year !

Un film de Francis VEBER, 1981, comédie, 1h30, avec Gérard DEPARDIEU, Pierre RICHARD…

Synopsis : One the best, most serious detectives in France (Gérard Depardieu) is teamed up with a luckless stumble-bum (Pierre Richard) and sent off to Central America to search for the klutzy daughter of a powerful magnate in this fast-paced and funny French farce.


By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

There are plenty of laughs to be had watching La Chevre, a French film written and directed by Francis Veber. When the very accident-prone 21-year-old daughter of a wealthy industrialist disappears while on vacation in Mexico, Campana, a veteran detective, is dispatched to find her

His search turns up nothing, and a psychologist working for the industrialist suggests they turn the investigation over to Francis Perrin, an accountant in their firm. The reason? Since Perrin is as accident prone as the missing girl, he may bumble his way into some clues.

La Chevre ("The Goat") moves forward with comic verve as Perrin leads Campana into one mishap after another. But each blunder turns up a new clue. Fans of slapstick will appreciate the screen camaraderie and humorous interplay between Pierre Richard as the bumbler and Gerald Depardieu as the rigorously logical detective who at last comes to see the magic in his friend's madness.

Ken Hanke

Francis Veber is probably better known for his writing than for his direction -- and best known for having penned La Cage aux Folles, which spawned the U.S. remake The Birdcage. (Hollywood seems to like remaking Veber's scripts and films, having annexed The Tall Blonde Man With One Black Shoe, The Toy, Les Comperes and now, it seems, his Le Placard, which is to be retooled for a doubtless-inferior U.S. version.)

La Chevre (The Goat, aka Knock on Wood) was only Veber's second directorial effort. It nonetheless marked his real breakthrough, thanks to the inspired teaming of Pierre Richard and Gerard Depardieu -- and a brilliantly simple concept that doesn't stand up to (or ask for) very much scrutiny.

When the cosmically clumsy daughter (Coryne Varbit) of a French industrialist (Michel Robin) is kidnapped in Mexico, traditional detective methods (practiced by Depardieu's character) fail, and the company psychiatrist (Andre Valardy) comes up with a notion that can only be called screwy. It's his contention that a gumshoe as luckless and accident-prone as the girl is the only hope for finding her. Enter Richard, who, much to the chagrin of Depardieu, becomes the "official" investigator. From there the film chugs along as a series of great gags based on this concept -- while a weird, and finally touching, camaraderie develops between the leads.

Not brilliant filmmaking, but it's perfectly serviceable to the story. Which is as it should be.