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All the female workers in the French textile factory in Picardie are given hope, when a few months after downsizing, the director presents them with new smocks embroidered with their names. But overnight, the factory is closed and the workers find themselves glumly counting their meager compensation. When the eccentric Louise (Yolande Moreau) suggests they pool their money and hire a hit-man to eliminate their former boss, everyone agrees. Louise is in charge of finding the hitman.... She stumbles on Michel (Bouli Lanners), a clueless, sloppy security guard with strange ideas.

Review by Louise Keller:
Brilliant or balderdash? After watching Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern's quirky, black film, I couldn't make up my mind. Louise-Michel is the strangest of films. One thing is sure, Delepine and Kervern never veer from their ambitious, improvised vision involving an illiterate, grumpy, dumpy factory worker who seeks out a security guard-turned hit-man smothered by his own problems. We quickly realise that the plot is simply the means by which we get to intimately know the two odd-ball characters - Yolande Moreau's Louise and Bouli Lanners' Michel. The fact that the film is dedicated to French anarchist Louise Michel may offer a few clues.

The setting is rural France and Moreau's Louise is the odd-one out of the group of factory workers who are trying to decide how best to use their meagre severance pay, when their livelihood is unexpectedly terminated. But they are all in agreement when Louise suggests they hire a hit-man. Best not to analyse the elements too much: after all, the entire film plays out like a dream David Lynch might have had. The incongruous is pitted against realism. Pessimism reigns supreme and the elements are all bizarre. The camera doesn't move: people move in and out of frame. For example, the camera rests on one part of the out of town trailer park in which Michel has his office, but he and Louise are out of frame most of the time. There is no background music, just a few songs with (English) lyrics that have some pertinence. "Well, you heard about the time I climbed the empire state building; and you heard about the time I was in the insane asylum. But I bet you never knew what I went through; what I had to do just to bring you... a lonely song."

Much of the attempt at comedy fails. One such attempt is the scene in which one of the trailer park residents re-enacts 9/11 with miniature buildings and toy airplanes. I scratched my head in disbelief when Mathieu Kassovitz's farm proprietor explains how he and his wife keep warm by covering themselves in excrement. Cross-dressers Louise and Michel's tap-dancing after a barrage of bullets have been fired is unexpected to say the least. I love good black comedy, but I really didn't get this one. Perhaps it whizzed over my head like some of those bullets.

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(France, 2008)

CAST: Yolande Moreau, Bouli Lanners, Benoît Poelvoorde, Albert Dupontel, Joseph Dahan, Mathieu Kassovitz, Agnès Aubé

PRODUCER: Benoît Jaubert

DIRECTOR: Gustave de Kervern, Benoît Delépine

SCRIPT: Gustave de Kervern, Benoît Delépine


EDITOR: Stéphanie Elmadjian

MUSIC: Not credited


RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney & Brisbane: October 8, 2009

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