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Emmenez-Moi!

An Unidentified Singing Object rendered plausible by Gerard Darmon's fearlessly gung-ho central perf, "Emmenez-moi!" is a sort of "Wizard of Oz" whose Yellow Brick Road consists of the hundreds of miles between Roubaix in the industrial North of France, and Paris.

With:
With: Gerard Darmon, Zinedine Soualem, Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Damien Jouillerot, Witold Heretynski, Patrick Brasseur, Sophie Hermelin, Oranne Dutoit, Nathalie Levy-Lang, Charles Aznavour.

An Unidentified Singing Object rendered plausible by Gerard Darmon’s fearlessly gung-ho central perf, “Emmenez-moi!” — the name of a 1967 Charles Aznavour song meaning “take me along” — is a sort of “Wizard of Oz” whose Yellow Brick Road consists of the hundreds of miles between Roubaix in the industrial North of France, and Paris. In modern fable, four unlikely disciples set off on foot to get what they need from the famous singer-songwriter. In addition to fests, strange but endearing pic could find niche auds wherever Aznavour fans reside.

Debuting scripter-helmer Edmond Bensimon incorporates the sad realities of alcoholism, unemployment and police brutality into a gentle and frequently funny tale of hero worship and constructive fandom.

Fiftysomething Jean-Claude (Darmon) lives on the dole with his orphaned teen nephew Benoit (Damien Jouillerot), who has a video camera. Jean-Claude tapes a personal thank-you to his idol Aznavour for being a great individual whose music counts. The two men start walking to Paris to deliver it in person, with Benoit taping the journey.

They are soon joined by Arsene (Lucien Jean-Baptiste), an unemployed man who left the Antilles 20 years ago and yearns to go back, but fears his family’s reaction. Over drinks, Jean-Claude convinces him that his good pal Aznavour can fix things up with Arsene’s mom on his next concert swing through the islands.

Good-natured simpleton and municipal garbage collector Boris (Zinedine Soualem) joins the trek, convinced that because Aznavour wrote a song about Caroline and a Bastille Day dance, he’ll know the phone number of the Caroline who Boris met under similar circumstances.

Every so often, a casual remark launches Jean-Claude into a not-bad rendition of an Aznavour standard. Bulk of the pic is lensed on DV in fittingly dreary colors, but song interludes are eye-popping set pieces lensed on 35mm.

When the pilgrims reach Paris (“Some people go to Lourdes; I’m going to Aznavour,” Jean-Claude says), protags’ dreams seem thwarted. Or are they?

Picturesque but economically depressed North of France has a lonely charm. Denouement is both funny and sweetly magical.

Emmenez-Moi!

France

Production: A Mars Distribution release of a Vendredi Films presentation of a Vendredi Films, Norimage Films, Editions Musicales Djanik, France 2 Cinema production. Produced by Frederic Bourboulon, Pierre Kubel, Gilles Bonnard, Andre Galzot, Pascal Lamargot, Marie-Castille Mention Schaar. Directed, written by Edmond Bensimon.

Crew: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm and 35mm), Dominique Le Rigoleur; editor, Elisabeth Paquotte; production designer, Thomas Peckre; costume designer, Claire Gerard-Hirne; assistant director, Pierre Senelas. Reviewed at UGC Danton, Paris, July 19, 2005. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Gerard Darmon, Zinedine Soualem, Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Damien Jouillerot, Witold Heretynski, Patrick Brasseur, Sophie Hermelin, Oranne Dutoit, Nathalie Levy-Lang, Charles Aznavour.

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