Sunday, June 2, 2019

With GUY, French actor/writer/director Alex Lutz has created a marvel of a mockumentary

Before viewing GUY (or Guy Jamet, the full name of the character shown on the poster above), TrustMovies had never heard of Alex Lutz, an award-winning French actor, comedian, writer and director. Post-viewing, however, he will remember this man and his one-of-a-kind work for, well, in perpetuity, he hopes.

Guy Jamet, I must tell you right off the bat, does not exist. Nor does the music he sings, the people he interacts with, nor really anything we see and learn about this aging pop idol. Yet Guy and the entire world around him has been imagined and researched so beautifully and then brought to life so remarkably well in this supposed-to-be-a-documentary movie about him that, even though you know -- from the press materials and too-much-information coverage of the film -- that what you're seeing is "fake," so real, so complete does it seem that you're likely to be amused, delighted and greatly moved by it nonetheless. (That's Mr. Lutz, above, shown pretty much as he is now, and on the poster, top, and below, playing the role of the 72-year-old aging pop star. The performer, by the way, won this year's coveted César Award for Best Actor in this role.)

So, yes, Guy is what is most often called a mockumentary. Yet mockumentaries are supposed to mock. But this one, while almost always witty and sometimes satiric, is so rich, warm, and human, full of emotion and sadness at the passing of time, missing of opportunities and the knowledge of our own inability to head off our worst impulses that it leaves you with more of a sense of reality and worth than do many of the actual documentaries and narrative bio-pics I've seen over the years.

Further, I haven't even gotten into the amazing skills with which, Mr. Lutz manages to create and inhabit the elder self (he also plays the younger version, though it is mostly that 72-year-old with whom we're spending our time). Everything -- from his movements to the superlative aging make-up and/or prosthetics applied -- seems nothing short of perfection. Mr. Lutz is quite something.

And when, along the way, we see, intercut with each other, the younger and older versions of Guy and one of his "loves," (above, with Élodie Bouchez, and below, with French icon Dani), the effect is mesmerising and moving in equal measure. Here, an entire cultural history opens up before us, and while the events and characters, the times and the songs may seem initially rather ordinary, something happens as they wash over you. Eventually it all gather the importance and feel of real life.

About the music: While it seemed to me captured to near perfection, "Isn't this sort of mediocre?" my spouse asked, mid-way along. And, yes, the songs here are absolutely of their time and place. Yet by the point at which the end credits rolled, "Boy, this song has really grown on me," spouse noted. I felt quite the same.

The movie is organized around the idea of a young filmmaker named Gauthier -- Tom Dingler, above -- getting Guy to agree to making this film about him by, among other things, telling him what a huge fan of his was Gauthier's mom. In reality, his late mother has informed Gauthier via letter than Guy is actually the young man's birth father. So the film is fraught with unspoken father/son issues throughout, some of them funny, others more telling. Probably the most emotional-yet-reticent scene of all involves Guy's lunch with the son he knows of and has recognized, shot by Gauthier at a discrete distance so that neither we nor he can hear what is being said by the father and his recognized son, even as the unrecognized one films it all.

While I am certain that many of the movie's more subtle and satiric barbs were lost on this American viewer, what remains was still so special, unconventional, surprising and alternately amusing and moving that Guy takes it place for me as one of this year's best films. It's an original -- and then some. (Above, right, is Nicole Calfan, very good as our hero's publicist; below, right, is Pascale Arbillot, playing his current squeeze.)

Without a theatrical release, all the more thanks is due Icarus Home Video and Distrib Films USA for making this gem available to us. Guy hits the street on DVD (digital will eventually arrive) this Tuesday, June 4 -- for purchase and (I hope) rental. Do find a way to see this one.

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