A gunshot echoes through the street, cutting the sound to silence. A woman’s eyes form a question as they go dead, slowly dropping out of the shot as her body limply hits the pavement. All the man can do is try to hold her life in her as he hugs her tight, but he knows he can’t save her. All he can do is scream in agony at the sky before plotting his next step to seek justice against those who have done him wrong.
This is about how your basic revenge story would go down in the film world, but Micmacs is not your average revenge story. Bazil lives a life of little excitement until one night while working at the movie rental store a stray bullet lodges into his brain. He lives, but now he is without a home, job, and no family to lean on thanks to another incident involving weapons years ago. He attempts a short run of living on the streets, but while performing for change a man takes him under his wing, introducing him to his new family of randomly talented people living under a pile of scrap. These people find comfort in the salvageable items most throw out, and it is while looking for such items on the streets when Bazil comes across headquarters of the weapons manufacturers who have led to the state of his life.
This may seem like the perfect set up for a shoot-em-up type action film, but lets face it, Dany Boon does not look the part of an action star. His eyes have a natural sag of the downtrodden to them that look as if they weigh heavy with sorrow, and it is hard to imagine this face ever being able to form anything resembling the type of anger needed to lash out with and strike fear in the hearts of others. Instead the plot that unfolds has a sort of controlled chaos to it with Bazil as the orchestrator of these acts of sabotage that play out more like practical jokes rather than hostile attacks. With the help of his friends, he manipulates the men around him like pawns, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement even as it gets challenging to keep track of what pawns are on the board and what their manipulation will eventually lead to. Luckily enough, even through the confusion this is exponentially more entertaining to watch than any game of chess could ever be.
Sticking to what has come to be expected of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films (such as my personal favorites Amélie and A Very Long Engagement), Micmacs impresses on all levels. In addition to the story, the cinematography capturing this whimsical world is beyond beautiful, accompanied by highly detailed sets and a soundtrack that both add to the playfulness of the film. And as usual, the random assortment of eccentric characters that fill this world are just as interesting as the scheming itself, including a contortionist, a disproportionate “strong man,” and a human cannonball. The cast may be filled with a bunch of unfamiliar faces to the average American viewing audience, but their lack of fame on our shores speaks nothing of the talent each and every actor brings to their roles.
Though the storyline does actually have a serious nature to it, it is nothing but pure entertainment and fun, making it easy to forget the dangerous element in this amusingly quirky world. Fans of other Jeunet films will love every aspect of Micmacs, and those who rarely venture out into the realm of foreign films should do so for this.
Final Grade: B+
PS – Micmacs is running a limited release right now, but hopefully it will be opening in a theater near you in the next few weeks.