Review: ‘Locked Out’

Meticulously calibrated and very well made, the defiantly aggressive "Locked Out" is a love-it-or-hate-it experience. Tale of a homeless man who champions the powerless after finding a policeman's uniform, pic satirizes upper-echelon corruption, humanizes homelessness and sends up knee-jerk respect for authority with a mixture of jaundice and naivete.

Meticulously calibrated and very well made, the defiantly aggressive “Locked Out” is a love-it-or-hate-it experience. Tale of a homeless man who champions the powerless after finding a policeman’s uniform, pic satirizes upper-echelon corruption, humanizes homelessness and sends up knee-jerk respect for authority with a mixture of jaundice and naivete. In his third outing as writer-director-star, comedian Albert Dupontel deploys his own body like an indestructible cartoon character. Local reception for the proudly over-the-top April 5 release should be solid; offshore, it’ll be a matter of taste.

A good-natured, glue-sniffing derelict, Roland (Dupontel) lives in a debris-strewn no-man’s-land in the shadow of impersonal office towers. Wandering the banks of the Seine one night, he notices a man leap to his death. Left behind: a curt suicide note and a police uniform, complete with boots and gun.

As the lone witness, Roland goes to police headquarters to turn over the dead cop’s stuff — only to be chased off the premises by security before he can state why he’s there.

Spying the hearty eats at an all-cop cafeteria, Roland dons the uniform and infiltrates the premises to get a free meal. The formerly insignificant public nuisance finds people behave with fear and respect in the presence of a (presumed) cop.

Meanwhile, single mom Marie (Claude Perron) is trying to get her 18-month-old daughter back from her evil in-laws (Helene Vincent, Roland Bertin). They think her past as a porn actress and her current job in an adult videostore disqualify her.

Determined to impress Marie, Roland mistakenly sequesters high-profile captain of industry Duval-Riche (Nicolas Marie), thinking he knows where the baby is. Compound misunderstandings flourish, with the strong in deep do-do and the weak (including cameo perfs from Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam) getting the upper hand.

Dupontel’s narrative tone and visual style are carefully controlled but abrasive. As in the movie’s two raucous predecessors — “Bernie (1996) and “The Creator” (1999) — the loud, cartoonishly violent and obnoxious have pride of place.

But this time out, Dupontel also adds more than a taste of Chaplin’s Little Tramp — if the Tramp had sniffed too much glue.

Via terrific f/x work, Dupontel ricochets off the scenery, taking as much abuse as Wile E. Coyote. Although the physical humor is universal, there’s something 100% Gallic about the film’s ambient indignation. Bravado widescreen lensing by Benoit Debie is top-notch, frantic editing never muddles the proceedings and grating score is a good fit.

Locked Out

France

Production

A UGC Distribution release of a Richard Grandpierre presentation of an Eskwad, UGC Images, Contre Prod., Caroline Films, France 2 Cinema production, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema. (International sales: UGC Intl., Paris.) Produced by Richard Grandpierre. Directed, written by Albert Dupontel.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Benoit Debie; editor, Christophe Pinel; music, Alain Ranval, Les Hyenes; production designer, Herve Leblanc; costume designer, Nathalie Guermah; sound (Dolby), Jean Minondo; stunt co-ordinator, Jean-Louis Airola; assistant director, Jean-Luc Roze. Reviewed at UGC Normandie, Paris, March 14, 2006. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Albert Dupontel, Claude Perron, Nicolas Marie, Roland Bertin, Philippe Duquesne, Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus, Bouli Lanners, Patrick Ligardes, Bruno Lochet, Yolande Moreau, Philippe Uchan, Helene Vincent, Serge Riaboukine, Yves Pignot, Jackie Berroyer, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones.

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