'Farewell Gary''

Pic struggles to find a balance between its central father-son conflict and the orbiting stories of the burg's other few inhabitants.

A boy in a desolate, post-industrial French town thinks his dad might be Gary Cooper in “Farewell, Gary,” the debut of scribe-helmer Nassim Amaouche. Pic struggles to find a balance between its central father-son conflict (which does not involve Cooper) and the orbiting stories of the burg’s other few inhabitants. Jean-Luc Godard might have loved “Man of the West,” but “Farewell, Gary” is unlikely to find similar champions Stateside. Euro revenue will mostly come from ancillary.

Opening sees Francis (Jean-Pierre Bacri, “Look at Me”) fretting over the return of his ex-con son, Samir (Yasmine Belmadi). He has come to find work, but the only factory has closed, effectively destroying the local economy. Francis’ liaison with Marie (Dominique Reymond) is an open secret, though her tubby son (Alexandre Bonnin) thinks his dad is a long-dead cowboy. Updated Western references abound, and juxtaposition with the last few souls (mostly of Maghrebi descent) that stayed behind in harsh economic conditions is interesting but never fully develops. Mildly comic and languid scenes alternate until the (unsurprising) big reveal. Thesping is routine, and strangely, lensing isn’t in widescreen. Other tech credits are fine.

Farewell Gary

France

Production

A StudioCanal release of a Les Films A4 presentation and production, in association with StudioCanal, Rhone-Alpes Cinema. (International sales: StudioCanal, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.) Produced by Jean-Philippe Andraca, Christian Berard. Directed, written by Nassim Amaouche.

Crew

Camera (color), Samuel Collardey; editor, Julien Lacheray; music, Le Trio Joubran; production designer, Dan Bevan; costume designer, Christel Birot. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week), May 17, 2009. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Jean-Pierre Bacri, Dominique Reymond, Yasmine Belmadi, Mhamed Arezki, Alexandre Bonnin, Sabrina Ouazani, Hab-Eddine Sebiane.

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