Quasimodo Patrick Timsit
Quasimodo Patrick TimsitFrollo Richard Berry Agnes/Esmeralda Melanie Thierry Phoebus Vincent Elbaz Quasimodo’s Father Didier Flamand Pierre-Gregoire Patrick Braoude Quasimodo’s Mother Axelle Abbadie Trouillefou Dominique Pinon Victor Hugo may be rolling in his grave, but undiscriminating auds have been rolling in the aisles over Patrick Timsit’s “Quasimodo d’El Paris,” a dopey contempo take on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Standup staple Timsit makes his helming debut and stars as the basically gentle, slightly deaf 20-year-old who knows little of life except ringing cathedral bells. Aimed at kids and teenagers , the broad, uneven comedy rang B.O. bells in its first two weeks, but dropped off fast after crossing the million-viewer hump. A bourgeois couple has an only son, Quasimodo, who at his baptism by priest Frollo (Richard Berry, entertainingly demonic) is cursed by Cuban criminal Trouillefou (Dominique Pinon). As Quasi grows older and uglier, his pragmatic parents pay Trouillefou to find them a cute young daughter instead – Esmeralda, a Cuban girl they rename Agnes. Fifteen years later, Quasi is pulling ropes in a bell tower and Agnes (17 -year-old former child-model Melanie Thierry) is a spoiled potential looker. A serial killer has done away with 18 women in the fictional city of “El Paris,” and the womanizing cop on the case, Phoebus (up-and-comer Vincent Elbaz, with ridiculous platinum blond hair), is making no progress. Agnes, who learns of her true origins in poverty and embraces her sensual heritage, becomes Quasi’s lone defender when he’s accused of the serial murders. Pic is vulgar, stupid and only marginally inventive. But thesps are obviously having fun, and some of the jibes about social inequality, as well as some of the anticlerical humor, are entertaining, if not particularly memorable. Timsit brings a boyish enthusiasm to Quasimodo, the cloistered adolescent who just wants to play Nintendo and wear a basketball jersey. Lensed in Portugal with no particular flair, pic is vaguely contempo, vaguely timeless in design. Musical standards, from “Besame mucho” to “Woolly Bully,” keep things lively.
Quasimodo D'El Paris
(COMEDY -- FRENCH)
A Bac Films release (in France) of a Hachette Premiere/Tentative d'Evasion/ France 3 Cinema/M6 Films production, with participation of TPS Cinema. (International sales: President Films, Paris.) Produced by Rene Cleitman. Executive producer, Bernard Bouix. Directed by Patrick Timsit. Screenplay, Jean-Francois Halin, Raffy Shart, Timsit. Camera (color), Vincenzo Marano; editor, Catherine Renault; music, Laurent Petitgirard; art director, Carlos Conti; costume designer, Juliette Chanaud; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Bernard Aubouy, Jean-Paul Hurier; assistant director, Valerie Othenin-Girard; casting, Bruno Levy. Reviewed at Planet Hollywood screening room, Paris, March 8, 1999. Running time: 100 MIN.