Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MyFrenchFilmFest.com: the sweet, small GOOD-BYE GARY from Nassim Amaouche

One of three films that overlapped both of the recent French film fests here in NY -- In-French-With-English-Subtitles from last Novem-ber and now MyFrenchFilm
Festival.com -- is a the generous, sweet-spirited wisp of a work called GOOD-BYE GARY (Adieu Gary), the first full-length film by writer/director Nassim Amaouche. Winner of the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes 2009, the little movie (all of 75 minutes) ambles along, as do its characters, experiencing the heat of the summer in a small town in France where the factory that  for decades employed most of the populace has now closed.

This may sound like a recipe for depression, if not disaster.  But no. France remains a country that cares -- to some extent, at least -- for her unem-ployed, and so the townspeople are rallying as best they can, each in his/her own way. From learning a new skill or taking an extended vacation on-the-dole to finding whatever work there is (the local supermarket is a going concern) or simply leaving for what might be gree-ner pastures back in Africa (the majority of the town seems to have Algerian roots), these people, under the caring, watchful eyes of  M. Amaouche (pictured above), persevere.

They squabble, complain, grow annoyed and get on each other's nerves, but through it all they rally when necessary. While this is a movie with a group hero -- the whole town -- certain characters still stand out.  The father (recently out of a job) and son (just out of prison) played respectively by Jean-Pierre Bacri (above) and the late Yasmine Belmadi (below), while clashing over subjects such as the value of work and unions, remain close. Each actor gives a full performance, even with the relatively small amount of dialog dished out by Amaouche.

Dad's lady love, the indispensable Dominique Reymond (below), lives with her son, too: a heavy-set kid with absentee-father problems of his own, who watches Gary Cooper movies daily, from which he jumps into a richer fantasy life. (The film's titles takes off from this character and his fantasies.)

Little is resolved by the quiet finish, but much has happened, both on the film's sunny, slowly-turning surface and below it. Unemployment effects everyone, we notice, in this short slice-of-provincial-life movie, yet where things are headed -- into a more Muslim territory -- might just be pretty healthy. Except for the religious angle. Especially if France can further westernize its immigrants. We shall see.

Meanwhile, you should try to see Adieu Gary.  No other U.S. release seems in sight for the film, which you can download for just $2.63 until the end of Saturday, January 29, via MyFrenchFestival.com.

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