Review: ‘The United States Of Albert’

Romance, adventure, sex and intrigue lurk in every frame of "The United States of Albert," a proudly outlandish riff on the perils and promise of 1920s America as imagined by French-speaking Canada's joyous iconoclast, Andre Forcier. Despite a few narrative slow-downs, indulgent film buffs will have a blast.

Romance, adventure, sex and intrigue lurk in every frame of “The United States of Albert,” a proudly outlandish riff on the perils and promise of 1920s America as imagined by French-speaking Canada’s joyous iconoclast, Andre Forcier. Well-cast love letter to the spirit of silent film never forgets that literally ANYTHING can happen in the movies. Story of Albert Renaud, a young actor determined to take post-Valentino Hollywood by storm, boasts an unbridled frontier energy and attractive protagonists in addition to contextual digressions involving pubic lice, carrier pigeons and golf. Despite a few narrative slow-downs, indulgent film buffs will have a blast.

Starting in 1923, aspiring leading man Albert (Eric Bruneau) shamelessly flatters aging Montreal tragedienne Jane Pickford (Andrea Ferreol) in hopes that she’ll write a letter of introduction to her famous niece Mary. Seriously smitten with the much younger Albert, she bequeaths him a costume that’s a replica of Valentino’s duds in “The Sheik.” He sets off via train for Hollywood.

Having met fellow passenger Grace Carson (Emilie Dequenne) — a Los Angeles-bound Mormon who has had it with her 75 sisters by her father’s 13 wives — Albert has no inkling that he’ll end up wandering in the Arizona desert dressed as the Sheik, rescuing damsels in distress, befriending wayward golf pro Jack Dekker (Roy Dupuis) and overcoming peculiar obstacles in an American West populated by French-speaking folks with tangy Quebecois accents.

Pic’s mission to surprise and entertain via ever-goofy and unfailingly gung-ho developments is refreshingly sustained.

The United States Of Albert

Canada-France-Switzerland

Production

A Link's Prods.(France)/Prods. Thalie (Quebec)/Caravan Films (Switzerland) co-production. Produced by David Kodsi, Yves Fortin, Andre Martin. Directed by Andre Forcier. Screenplay, Andre Forcier, Linda Pinet.

Crew

Camera (color), Daniel Jobin; editor, Elisabeth Guido; music, Jean-Philippe Heritier; sound, Francoise Musy; production designer, Gilles Aird; set decoration, Denis Hamel; costume designer, Klaude Rouss; assistant director, Alain Dupras. Reviewed at Club 13 screening room, Paris, Jan. 24, 2005. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Market) Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Eric Bruneau, Emilie Dequenne, Andrea Ferreol, Roy Dupuis, Laurent Deshusses, Alex Descas, Patricia Ubeda, Marc Labreche, Alejandro Moran, Celine Bonnier, Mark Krasnoff, Julie McClemens.
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