French thesp Michel Blanc has a lot of fun with his image(s) in “Dead Tired,” and the result is an extremely funny insider’s look at fame that should be big for the diminutive actor on home turf. However, as the hilarity derives from a knowledge of contempo Gallic fare, the pic’s international potential will swing with his popularity from territory to territory.
The simple setup is that Blanc is exhausted from a busy schedule of TV and cinema fare. So, when strange things start happening in his life, he wonders if he’s losing his mind.
The balding comic is seen running riot in Cannes, where he puts the make on a string of ingenues. Also present is film festival honcho Gilles Jacob, who’s caught off-guard and reluctantly gives Gerard Depardieu’s room number at the Hotel Carlton to Blanc.
Blanc, after being accused of rape by actress Josiane Balasko, seeks psychiatric help and is advised to spend some quiet time in the country. His friend, actress Carole Bouquet, takes him to her estate in Provence.
Providence steps in when Blanc and Bouquet discover an impostor. The conniving, lecherous character assumed to be him earlier turns out to be a double. A merry chase ensues that culminates with an agreement in which the exhausted actor will do the “good” roles while his mirror image gets the schlock.
Filmmaker Blanc keeps the tale moving at a breakneck pace that prevents its thinness from showing. And while there are a lot of in-jokes that remind one of the somewhat similar “Stardust Memories” from Woody Allen, both films have serious vibrations under a jocular facade.
The final section finds Blanc usurped by his look-alike, causing a desperate attempt to set things right. Imagine Kafka with a droll sense of humor and you have the picture.
“Dead Tired” is a delightful conceit with a scattergun sensibility. While it’s not impossible to enjoy it if you are unfamiliar with the French film scene , such knowledge nonetheless enriches the experience.