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: 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!


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

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content