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French films review - January 2020

French films and essential viewing for cinéphiles. This month: Les Bronzés font du ski and J’accuse

Les Bronzés font du ski, Patrice Leconte, 90 mins

In terms of radical departures, 1989’s Monsieur Hire, a splendid slow-burn of a film about a creepy neighbour spying on his beautiful voisine, could not be further removed from its director’s earlier work.

Patrice Leconte cut his teeth in altogether more knockabout, light-hearted fashion.

A former cartoonist, he enjoyed whopping success in France in 1978 with Les Bronzés, a beloved, cult comedy about the various couplings among eccentrics and misfits enjoying a Club Med break.

It starred members of the Le Splendid comedy troupe, including Christian Clavier, Michel Blanc, Gérard Jugnot, Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko and Marie-Anne Chazel – all of whom went on to become top-billing actors.

A year later, the gang was reunited, this time for more japes and clumsy seduction on the ski slopes of Val d’Isère for Les Bronzés Font du Ski, a film which makes perfect viewing at this time of year. Lines from it are often quoted by French people to this day.

Les Bronzés” is literally translated as “The suntanned ones”, which makes the official English names for the two films – French Fried Vacation 1 and 2 – utterly, though perhaps aptly, daft.

The third in the series, Les Bronzés: Amis Pour la Vie (Friends for life) saw Leconte and the gang of oddballs, now

in their 50s, team up again in a Sardinia hotel. It bagged an eye-watering 10million ticket sales at the box office.

 

Must-see: 

J’accuse

A box-office topper for Jean Dujardin as Colonel Picquart from counter-intelligence who discovered the fabricated evidence against Alfred Dreyfus at the heart of the Dreyfus Affair that began in 1894.

See our article about 'L'affaire Dreyfus': Modern parallels in scandal that shamed France

Watch the trailer:

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