Review: ‘Final Arrangements’

Entirely funereal but not at all funny, French undertaker comedy "Final Arrangements" transforms a decent concept into a hodgepodge of flat jokes and misguided emotions.

Entirely funereal but not at all funny, French undertaker comedy “Final Arrangements” transforms a decent concept into a hodgepodge of flat jokes and misguided emotions. Debut helming effort by vet screenwriter Michel Delgado (“The Red Inn”) stars Gallic comic Didier Bourdon as a clumsy mortician facing down a younger exec sent to help run his failing parlor, but the story quickly palls amid gags that are stiffer than rigor mortis. Pic performed weakly during wide local release and should R.I.P. on homevid.

When seasoned embalmer Gervais (Bourdon) loses out on a promotion to struggling junior composer Gabriel (Marc-Andre Grondin), the latter is sent to teach Gervais a few lessons in marketing coffins. But Gabriel soon falls for one his clients (Berenice Bejo), and their ensuing romance becomes a trauma of botched interment ceremonies and ill-treated cadavers — the topper of which is an elderly stiff whose face is decimated by her hungry poodle. Pic’s other setups are similarly tasteless, captured with garish production values and unaided by a humorless Gerard Depardieu playing Gabriel’s sculptor dad.

Final Arrangements

France

Production

A Gaumont release of a Gaumont, Les Films du Worso, France 3 Cinema production, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema. (International sales: Gaumont, Paris.) Produced by Sylvie Pialat. Directed, written by Michel Delgado, based on an original idea by Sylvie Pialat.

Crew

Camera (color), Pascal Gennesseaux; editor, Joelle Hache; music, Frederic Porte; production designer, Frederic Benard; costume designer, Annie Thiellement. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 11, Paris, Nov. 8, 2008. Original title: Bouquet final. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Didier Bourdon, Marc-Andre Grondin, Berenice Bejo, Gerard Depardieu, Marthe Keller.
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