(ADIEU LES CONS)
DIRECTOR: ALBERT DUPONTEL
CAST: VIRGINIE EFIRA; ALBERT DUPONTEL; NICOLAS MARIÉ LANGUAGE: FRENCH; ENGLISH SUBTITLES
RT 88 MINS
CESAR AWARDS: BEST PICTURE; BEST DIRECTOR; BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
IN CINEMAS AND ON CURZON HOME CINEMA 23 JULY 2021
REVIEW by SUSAN GRAY
Albert Dupontel’s multiple Cesar award winner is an adorable farce, with a big heart and a serious message. Suze Trappet, sensitively played by Virginie Elfira, is a middle-aged, successful hairdresser who discovers her respiratory condition, caused by salon aerosol cans, is now terminal. This leads her to double down on the search for the adopted son she gave birth to when she was fifteen. All previous attempts to track down her child have been stymied by bureaucracy, that seems to be designed to thwart Suze, and take delight in doing so.
Suze’s unlikely, and initially reluctant ally in her quest is IT security specialist Jean Baptiste Cuchas 'J B’, played by Dupontel himself. The director acts with measured restraint, determined to rein in any hint starry or scene-stealing performances. JB’s demotion and videoed, misfiring suicide attempt, propels the narrative into a fast, but reflective rather than furious, caper. Most of the film’s ample comic load falls to blind archivist Monsieur Blin, with Nicolas Marie channelling Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Marcel Marceau and every other visual gag classic, to stunning effect.
Although Bye Bye Moron wittily references crude slapstick and shoot ‘em up movies - Terry Gilliam’s cameo as a hillbilly hunter advertising guns online is a particular delight - the overall film is beautiful, richly deserving its Cinematography Cesar. Whether an interior close up of the pain of giving birth, or an exterior pan of skyscrapers with choreographed lifts, the world of the film is a harmonious whole. Its night time scenes give the sense of entering a more elemental realm than the day to day. And the visual rhythms - both Suze and JB react to their devastating news with the same, infinitely relatable, gesture - are reinforced by the pace of the dialogue, jokes and comic set ups.
Dupontel’s film feels like an anthem for Gilet Jaunes, portraying a bungling state that does not serve ordinary people no matter how faithfully they serve it. With a huge nod to Gilliam’s Brazil, state power is shown as incompetent, with the sole, overarching aim of justifying itself and not looking foolish.
Bye Bye Morons is also refreshing for depicting an unapologetically modern France, without a chateau or a gilded ceiling in sight. And with Suze and JB mainly on the run, there is no time for lengthy meals with wine or long discussions, which feels refreshing. The film’s ending is also bracing, showing the extreme price bloodied but not beaten individuals will pay to have life on their own terms.