Friday, January 20, 2017

FIAF's comedy series continues with Mohamed Hamidi's mainstream ONE MAN AND HIS COW

A movie like ONE MAN AND HIS COW (La vache in the original French) is very nearly above (or maybe below) criticism. It means to bring us all together by any means possible -- and it's damned well gonna do it! In any case, La Vache is part of FIAF's continuing CinéSalon series -- Comedy on Film:What Makes the French Laugh? -- during this January and February. Evidently the film was a big hit in France, and it's not difficult to understand why.

As directed (and co-written) by Mohamed Hamidi (shown at right), the movie is a veritable check-list of hot-button topics -- from immigration and employment through class differences and the uses of (and by) the media. Further it stars two very popular French icons that very nicely represent both class stations and tradition vs immigration: Lambert Wilson (below, center) and Jamel Debbouze (below, left).

The film's star, Fatsah Bouyahmed (above, right, and below, who also co-wrote the movie), is a perfect match for his role as Fatah, the kindly, loving, perhaps-not-too-bright Algerian man whose dream it has long been to display his prize cow, Jacqueline, at the famous International Agriculture Fair in Paris. When he finally gets an invitation to compete, he and his cow take a boat to Marseilles and then walk cross-country to the fair.

Along the way our hero meets a wide array of folk -- from a ne'er-do-well nephew (M. Debbouze) to an impoverished Count (M. Wilson), both of whom begin by looking like bad guys but of course conveniently change their stripes. He stops at the farm of a very nice widow, gets involved in a magic show and its hosts (below), with whom he drinks some alcohol and gets to sing I Will Survive.

Once the media gets wind of this man-and-cow walking-tour of France, our hero becomes big news. Social media takes it to the next step, and before you can say What's French for Facebook?, Fatah is famous. Ditto Jacqueline.

Does the phrase feel-good come at all to mind here? Right. And this little movie bears all the hallmarks of an utterly manufacturer feel-good movie. It also proves pretty much irresistible, despite the fact of its character "turnarounds" and that it makes everything look awfully easy. Fatah gets involved in a labor strike, too, yet the movie resolutely refuses to go into any of the specifics. Consequently there's nothing here to ruffle anyone's feathers.

Still, a movie like this does deserve a place in FIAF's comedy series, for it stands four-square for feel-good values. And it does so in quite the polished, professional manner. Even the ending -- which proves so rule-breaking that it has no right to happen on any rational, reasonable level -- works just fine in its "dumb fun" way.

La Vache will screen at FIAF this coming Tuesday, January 24, at 4pm and 7:30pm, with a guest speaker to be announced and free wine and beer and a nice discussion group following each screening. To learn more and/or order your tickets, simply click here. (So far as I know, there are no plans to distribute the film theatrically here in the U.S., so this may be your only chance to see it.)

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