×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Let My People Go!

Production-designed to the max, absurdist comedy from tyro French helmer Mikael Buch offers an unholy alliance of camp and farce that both celebrates and mocks gay and Jewish stereotypes.

With:
With: Nicolas Maury, Carmen Maura, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Amira Casar, Clement Sibony, Jarkko Niemi, Jean-Luc Bideau, Kari Vaananen, Outi Maenpaa, Aurore Clement, Charlie Dupont, Olavi Uusirvita. (French, Finnish dialogue)

In Finland, a few days before Passover, a series of misunderstandings result in the breakup of a Frenchman and his Finnish lover, sending the Frenchman reeling back to Paris and his dysfunctional family just in time for the Jewish holiday. Production-designed to the max, tyro French helmer Mikael Buch’s absurdist comedy “Let My People Go!” offers an unholy alliance of camp and farce that both celebrates and mocks gay and Jewish stereotypes. For viewers with a tolerance for this kind of humor, pic reps entertaining festival fodder with natural appeal to two strong niche audiences.

An appropriately fairy-tale prologue intros Reuben (Nicolas Maury, who spent four months learning Finnish), spoiled scion of a French dry-cleaning empire, who went to Finland for a graduate degree in comparative sauna cultures and wound up as a village postman in order to stay with hunky blond b.f. Teemu (Jarkko Niemi, bland). But one day when the delivery of a registered mail parcel containing a big wad of euros goes terribly awry, Teemu kicks Reuben out.

Returning to Paris, Reuben catches up with his ditzy Mom (Carmen Maura, who was better doing this sort of thing for Pedro Almodovar), irritable brother (Clement Sibony) and unhappily married sis (Amira Casar). To his distress, his father (Jean-Francois Stevenin) forces him to play tennis and meet his mistress (Aurore Clement).

At the Out of Egypt nightclub, an unexpected encounter with family friend, respected lawyer and pillar of the Jewish community Maurice Goldberg (pop-eyed Jean-Luc Bideau, hilarious), who is randier than an old goat, leaves Reuben missing Teemu more than ever. Meanwhile, back in Finland, Teemu’s adventures with a friendly forest ranger (Olavi Uusirvita) inspire a desire for reconciliation with Reuben, a desire of which his glamorous mother (Outi Maenpaa, who nearly steals the show in her two short scenes) heartily approves.

The overbusy screenplay, co-written by Buch and his mentor, French helmer Christophe Honore (“Beloved,” “The Beautiful Person”), seems designed to facilitate as many name cameos as possible, resulting in some silly bits of business that slow the flow of the narrative and don’t support the overall plot as much as they might. Most amusing of the digressions, introduced by a never seen voiceover narrator, include a commercial for a spray, taglined “Jewish in a jiffy,” that can convert goyim to Judaism on contact.

Unfortunately, the script fails to render the characters sympathetically, making it difficult to take a rooting interest in whether Reuben and Teemu will reunite. Thesping is all over the place, with Maury and Bideau most in tune with the exaggerations of farce. Nevertheless, some viewers may have a bone to pick with Maury’s mincing, prancing and weird falsetto.

Definitely not afraid of theatricality, the craft credits, particularly production design, are everything they should be. Use of vintage effects such as iris shots also help set the mood.

Les Films du Losange plans a domestic rollout Dec. 28.

Let My People Go!

France

Production: A Les Films Pelleas production, in association with France 2 Cinema, Jouror Prods., with the participation of Orange Cinema Series, Canal Plus, France Television, CNC de L'image Animee, with the support of Le Region Ile-de-France, in partnership with CNC, in association with Sofica Cineimage 5, Uni Etoile 8. (International sales: Les Films du Losange, Paris.) Produced by Philippe Martin, Geraldine Michelot. Directed by Mikael Buch. Screenplay, Christophe Honore, Buch.

Crew: Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Celine Bozon; editor, Simon Jacquet; music, Eric Neveux; art director, Gwendal Bescond; costume designer, Anais Romand; sound (Dolby Digital), Mathieu Villien, Benoit Hillebrant, Stephane Thiebaut. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (First Films, competing), Aug. 22, 2011. Running time: 85 MIN.

Cast: With: Nicolas Maury, Carmen Maura, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Amira Casar, Clement Sibony, Jarkko Niemi, Jean-Luc Bideau, Kari Vaananen, Outi Maenpaa, Aurore Clement, Charlie Dupont, Olavi Uusirvita. (French, Finnish dialogue)

More Scene

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Tina KnowlesSoul of Nation: Art in

    Jay-Z, Tina Knowles Celebrate New 'Soul of a Nation' Exhibit at Broad Museum

    “This show is so important. I mean, it’s our history — and it’s a very important part of our journey,” Tina Knowles Lawson said about Friday night’s opening of the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 – 1983” at the Broad Museum in DTLA. “I’m just so impressed [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content