×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pirate TV

Appropriately shambolic yet finally too unfocused, "Pirate TV" follows an idealistic country bumpkin who joins a rebellious DIY television station in Paris.

With:
With: Felix Moati, Sara Forestier, Eric Elmosnino, Maiwenn, Emmanuelle Beart, Yannick Choirat, Zinedine Soualem, Samir Guesmi, Francois-Eric Gendron, Lionel Girard, Christiane Millet, Anne Benoit.

Appropriately shambolic yet finally too unfocused, “Pirate TV” follows an idealistic country bumpkin who joins a rebellious DIY television station in Paris. Set in the mid-1990s, when the emergence of vidcameras made it possible for the masses to cheaply shoot their own TV-style programs but had trouble broadcasting the resulting audiovisual doodles, this latest effort from scribe-helmer Michel Leclerc (“The Names of Love”) offers a meandering mish-mash of relational and technical troubles that lacks any true coherence. Locally, auds might recognize the pic’s direct inspiration, Tele Bocal, but abroad, it will prove too culturally specific to gain much traction.

Teen beanpole Victor (Felix Moati) is more passionate than knowledgeable about films, practicing acceptance speeches for an audience of one: himself. His working-class parents (Christiane Millet, Francois-Eric Gendron) think Pasolini is a brand of pasta, but when his mother wins a visit to the TV set of her favorite talkshow (hosted by Emmanuelle Beart, in a cameo), Victor tags along, manages to land a job as an intern and subsequently moves to the City of Lights (interns were clearly very well paid in 1990s France).

Victor quickly falls in with creative small-time crook Eric-Lou (Eric Elmosnino), his political firebrand g.f. (Maiwenn) and their motley crew of stock two-dimensional types. Together they run Tele Gaucho, a tiny TV station with vain hopes of overthrowing the hegemony of the broadcasting giants for whom Victor secretly continues to intern.

A romantic optimist by nature who tries hard to conform to the channel’s nonconformism, Victor finds himself shooting tongue-in-cheek short programs with titles such as “Objects That Annoy Us,” and “I Used to Believe That … ,” humorous segments of a sort that the director himself shot during his time at Tele Bocal.

The energetic early going has some fun with the perceived differences between mass-market TV and the elevated world of cinema, though even here Leclerc, who co-wrote the screenplay with Thomas Lilti, seems uninterested in exploring some of the film’s naturally suggested themes in great depth. Since the helmer is wading into semi-autobiographical territory (his short “Le Poteau rose” already mined similar territory), one could expect that a simple re-creation of the wild energy and confused ideals of Bocal might in and of itself be interesting.

But for anyone without similar experiences, “Pirate TV” will feel like a random pileup of events in the lives of Victor and his ragtag friends. This is especially obvious in Leclerc’s conception of Clara (Sara Forestier, “The Names of Love”), Victor’s dumb-blonde g.f. Her purposes in the film are to saddle Victor with responsibility (they have a child they name after Antoine Doinel); to provide some gratuitous nudity; and to make auds chuckle along with her constant embodiment of Murphy’s Law. But the character never comes to life or feels coherent.

Moati (“Lol”), the son of TV journo Serge Moati, knows his way around the material, and his natural charm helps smooth over the film’s obvious uncertainty about his character’s status (is he the protag or just a member of a group?). Maiwenn and Elmosnino are pros, but their characters as written lack depth, and Forestier is game in a part that’s all over the place. All the other roles are as flat as a TV screen.

Technically, d.p. Guillaume Deffontaines has fun integrating some material shot in blocky Super 8, while editor Annette Dutertre smoothly splices in some real Tele Bocal footage, suggesting “Pirate TV” at least has the look and feel of the period.

Popular on Variety

Pirate TV

France-Belgium

Production: A UGC release of a 31 Juin Films presentation of a 31 Juin Films, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, UGC, France 2 Cinema, Scope Pics production, in association with France Televisions, Canal Plus, Cine Plus. (International sales: TF1 Intl., Paris.) Produced by Agnes Vallee, Emmanuel Barraux. Directed by Michel Leclerc. Screenplay, Leclerc, Thomas Lilti.

Crew: Camera (color, Super 8/HD), Guillaume Deffontaines; editor, Annette Dutertre; music, Jerome Bensoussan; production designer, Stephane Becimol; costume designer, Melanie Gautier; sound (Dolby Digital), Sophie Laloy, David Vranken, Stephane Thiebaut; assistant director, Amandine Escoffier; casting, Aurelie Guichard, Julie Navarro. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, Dec. 12, 2012. Running time: 113 MIN.

With: With: Felix Moati, Sara Forestier, Eric Elmosnino, Maiwenn, Emmanuelle Beart, Yannick Choirat, Zinedine Soualem, Samir Guesmi, Francois-Eric Gendron, Lionel Girard, Christiane Millet, Anne Benoit.

More Film

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

  • Female Filmmakers in Germany Make Progress

    Female Filmmakers Surge Forward in Germany, But Still Face Obstacles

    Four feature films by German filmmakers screened at the Toronto Film Festival, and three of them were directed by women – Angela Schanelec’s “I Was at Home, But…,” winner of the Berlinale’s best director prize, Ina Weisse’s “The Audition,” and Katrin Gebbe’s “Pelican Blood,” the latter two both starring Nina Hoss. Germany’s Oscar entry this [...]

  • Bull

    Annie Silverstein's 'Bull' Takes Top Awards, Robert Pattinson Starrer 'The Lighthouse' Wins Jury Prize at Deauville

    Annie Silverstein’s feature debut “Bull” swept three awards at the 45th Deauville American Film Festival, including the Grand Prize, the Revelation Prize for best first film and the Critics’ Prize. “Bull,” a portrait of a rebellious teenage girl from South Texas, world premiered at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard and marks Silverstein’s follow up to her [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content