You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Film Review: ‘The Price of Success’

In Teddi Lussi-Modeste's cliched take on fame, Tahar Rahim plays a famous comedian subverted by his most trusted adviser — his brother.

Teddi Lussi-Modeste
Tahar Rahim, Roschdy Zem, Maiwenn, Gregoire Colin.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6194540/

While it’s generally not essential for a film about a successful creative character to get their job right, there’s something conspicuous about the hottest stand-up comedian in France never once saying anything funny. In “The Price of Success,” a a cliche-larded drama about celebrity malaise, Tahar Rahim, best known for his galvanizing turn in “A Prophet,” stars as a blockbuster comic who sells out arenas but seems incapable of making people laugh. It doesn’t help that the film bears so much similarity to Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” a funny drama by and about one of the world’s premier stand-ups. The absence of humor here feeds into the perversive inauthenticity that dogs the action. Rahim remains a magnetic leading man, but original insights into fame, family and ethnic identity are few and far between.

In his second feature, co-writer/director Teddy Lussi-Modeste (“Jimmy Riviere”) plays up the carnival-of-life craziness that engulfs a French comedian of North African origin at a crucial point in his career. For the mono-monikered Brahim (Rahim), life at the top has earned him a luxurious apartment, endorsements and movie deals, as well as a beautiful girlfriend, Linda (Maiwenn), who’s eager to help him move to the next level. But the demands of his fan base and his family are wearing him down, and a recent series of bad headlines and management decisions have left him spinning his wheels and worrying about the future. He starts to blame his tempestuous brother, Mourad (Roschdy Zem), who has served as his agent, manager, bodyguard and sounding board from the very beginning.

When Brahim was a young talent on the rise, Mourad was his loyal and aggressive advocate, but lately his brother has been throwing  impromptu rowdy parties at his apartment, picking fights with adversaries and signing him to commercials and other projects that aren’t worthy of his superstar status. On top of that, Mourad has been treating Linda as more of a threat than a partner in steering Brahim’s career — and a more polished agent, Herve (Gregoire Colin), has swooped into his life, promising new opportunities and a steadier hand. The inevitable rift between Brahim and Mourad has a terrible fallout for both men and leaves Brahim without the family that’s always been his base of support. Moreover, Brahim’s identity as an Arab star seems in danger of eroding, too.

Though surrounded by more internationally recognized castmates, Zem gives the film’s standout performance as a fiercely dedicated but petty and genuinely dangerous presence in his brother’s life. Mourad is partly responsible for the toxicity that’s seeped into the relationship, but he’s also sunk by personality traits that served Brahim well at one point in his career but hang on him like an albatross now. Mourad is the only complex character in “The Price of Success” — given to deplorable behavior, like his casual misogyny toward Linda, and redeeming qualities, too, like an almost childlike devotion and vulnerability. For better or worse, Brahim can always count on his brother.

But there are no aspects of Brahim’s life as a celebrity that “The Price of Success” examines with any depth or surprise. A star isolated by fame? A slick agent? A controlling girlfriend who may or may not be a Yoko Ono clone? A family that grows fat on his paychecks but turns on him when it matters? These are all the standard cliches, and while the story takes a few odd lurches into kidnapping and violence, everything gets cleaned up with a tidiness that buffs the movie’s rougher edges. Brahim is working with some tame material, on and off the stage.


Toronto Film Review: 'The Price of Success'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 8, 2017. Running time: 92 MIN.

Production: A Kazak Prods. production in association with Cofinova 13, Cinemage 11, Soficinema 13 and Indie Invest. (International sales: Indie Sales, Paris.) Producer: Jean-Christophe Reymond. Executive producer: Reymond.

Crew: Director: Teddy Lussi-Modeste. Screenplay: Lussi-Modeste, Rebecca Zlotowski. Camera (color, widescreen): Julien Poupard. Editor: Julien Lacheray. Music: ROB.

With: Tahar Rahim, Roschdy Zem, Maiwenn, Gregoire Colin.

More Film

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in

    Writers Guild Makes It Official: This Is the Most Wide-Open Oscars Race Ever

    For the record, we’re in uncharted territory this Oscar season. While we still have the costume designers’ ceremony to get through on Tuesday, the Writers Guild Awards put a bow on the major guild kudos circuit Sunday night. The results have yielded what is, unequivocally, the most wide-open Oscar field in history. More Reviews Sundance [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” The major television trophies went to “The Americans,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homeland” and “Barry” for the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content