Louise-Michel (Kervern/Delépine)

Adventures in film distribution, part two.

In a fair and just society, Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delépine’s ‘Louise-Michel‘ (2008) would have been an irresistible smash at the box-office. It would have shifted a shitload of units on DVD and featured near the top of all the year-end lists. Or it would at least have seen the light of day in the UK within a year of being made. Alas, we do not live in a fair and just society and we have been made to wait for this anarchic political comedy. (Then again, in a fair and just society, a film so driven by outrage at the unaccountability and greed of entrepreneurial capital would be regarded as a curious throwback to darker times.)

This is a very funny, absurdly funny film and it works because the politics that grounds its ludicrous plot is shot through with the non-conformist spirit of anarchism.

Kervern and Delépine do road movies. They know no other way than the (freewheelin’) highway. Their debut, ‘Aaltra,’ possibly the driest comedy ever committed to film, sent two feuding paraplegics on a wheelchair-bound journey across Europe; ‘Avida‘ had a deaf-mute ‘homme sauvage’ rampage across Northern France in a quest to recreate a surrealist painting; while the forthcoming ‘Mammuth‘ levers an ageing Gerard Depardieu back onto his Harley Davidson to gather proof of his pension contributions.

In ‘Louise-Michel‘, when the owners make them redundant overnight, a group of clothing-factory workers decides to pool their union compensation and hire a hitman to off the company head. Louise, an illiterate, gender-faking ex-convict (née Jean-Pierre) takes charge of the operation and selects self-deluding, cowardly assassin, Michel (née Catherine), but the trail leads into a labyrinth of parent companies, subsidiaries, and tax havens.

Bouli Lanners and the inimitable Yolande Moreau have far too much fun as the quixotic pair who make up in determination what they lack in wit.

Louise-Michel will be released in selected cinemas in the UK on Friday (April 1st). Go get it while you can.

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