Text by Francesco Alò – badtaste.it
Photo: Alessio Costantino
Translation by Bianca Baroni
“And don’t you clown no more!” is what the swiss gendarmes will kindly tell Eddy, releasing him.
Easier said than done, not only because who plays this role is the excellent Benoît Poelvoorde, able to move from the slapstick kind of comedy with Danny Boon (Nothing to Declare) to the role of the nobleman who loves a great future stylist (Coco) but is loved back. But also because Eddy… let’s say that he embodies the sense of humor even though often he doesn’t recognizes it at all., especially in himself. He will probably get in trouble again soon.
It’s comedy time at Venice Film Festival.
Last year, the Best Screenplay prize went to Philomena’s weird couple and this year another comedy, the second out of the three presented movies, partecipates in the competition: La rançon de la gloire. Its main character is Eddy. Inspired by a real story, the movie by Xavier Beavoius (Of Gods and Men’s great director and cameo in our A Castle in Italy) is about the funny drunkard Eddy, who teams up with Osman, who hosts him in the crumbling but upstanding shacks around Lake Geneva right after his set out of jail.
Beavoius’ movie has an extremely simple structure and a little more unpredictable soundtrack. After Birdman, it’s second film in which the musical comments suddenly assault the frames without giving us the impression of being capable to foresee them. Very interesting. Alexandre Desplat, the committee’s President, will be happy about it. Eddy, Osman and his little daughter Samira get by between modest meals and funny lines (the girl wants to go to university and this leaves the two men speechless).
What could ever mess up the life of such humble people? The medical care, necessary for Samira’s mum, and Charlie Chaplin’s sudden death. Why not stealing his remains and then asking for a ransom? That’s when the comedy turns into an adventure story of random criminals, in italian comedy’s tradition, starting from the forefather Big Deal on Madonna Street to the last example Smetto quando voglio (2014): in Charlie Chaplin’s style (Osman’s shacks reminds us of The Gold Rush’s settings), the characters belongs to a very low social class and have to deal with the theft of a coffin and a consequent ransom.
But are these two sweet thrid-rate thieves going to be able to commit crimes properly? And here we go with an adorable succession of criminal actions, full of silence, inabilities (Eddy always lowers the ransom every time he’s at phone) and linguistic misunderstanding worthy of Fantozzi.
“All you need is shovel and balls” will say Eddy, while he’s digging Chaplin up from his originary tomb to put him in a lost field. These two are great friends, there’s something important that bonds them, maybe something more than the common immigrate origin (the one is from Belgium, the other from Algery), that we know well, since we are the country that produced the masterpiece Bread and Chocolate (1974).
In this movie, Switzerland is not mean. Actually, it seems to sympathize with the two, rather than mangle them. And everything is so near, accessible, with no obstructions. Luckly, there’s an evil Peter Coyote (great shape for the main character of Polanski’s Bitter Moon) that keeps the hype up, here in the role of Chaplin’s memorable assitant, furious for the unpleasant foul deed. The funniest part? When Eddy and Osman, inside their shack, the series of contradictory rethorical claims of newscasts mentioning the great director of Limelight, Modern Times and The Gold Rush as “the bard of the poor”, while few seconds after they make a list of the huge properties and the endless financial resources of the famous extinct. But don’t think that the movie is filled with pungent humour.
Instead, it’s a modern tale, in Chaplin’s style, where nobody gets hurt, where kids are smarter than adults and offenses can be forgiven saying sorry to a tomb. There’s also the arrival of a nice itinerant circus lead by Chiara Mastroianni.
We bet Chapin would have truly loved it.