For all of Gerard Depardieu’s invasive uncouthness in the title role, “Boudu” offers a kinder, gentler, household-decimating bum than Michel Simon’s bundle of anarchy in the 1932 Jean Renoir classic, “Boudu Saved From Drowning.” Second updating of Rene Fauchois’ play — following “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” with an unkempt Nick Nolte — functions well enough as a tale of no good turn going unpunished, but still falls into the category of Not Really Needed Remakes. Helmed by locally beloved director-actor Gerard Jugnot, this March 9 release will come fully into its own when it hits TV.
Set in sunny Aix-en-Provence, update begins with married, middle-aged and deep-in-debt gallery owner Christian Lespinglet (Jugnot) driving his sweet young assistant Coralie (Constance Dolle) to a canal one night to put romantic moves on her. Instead, he ends up rescuing a drowning tramp — the crass, lumpy, illiterate, fearless and outspoken Boudu.
The damp tramp proceeds to make his mark on Christian’s sterile bourgeois household. Eventually, he has his way with both Christian’s alcoholic and vertigo-afflicted wife, Yseult (Catherine Frot), and virginal churchgoer Coralie.
Score’s use of operatic and other classical chestnuts as counterpoint to Boudu’s irksome demeanor is the venture’s only semi-inventive touch, and the final shot infuses some poetry into the otherwise flat (if pro) exercise. Peppered with guilty nods toward helping the homeless, Jugnot’s version may flirt with what happens to people who lack social filters; but ultimately, pic is cuddly and reassuring instead of dark and unsettling.