Daily | Venice + Telluride 2014 | Xavier Beauvois’s THE PRICE OF FAME

'The Price of Fame'

‘The Price of Fame’

“Like the glorious, overripe Michel Legrand score lavished over an otherwise quiet affair, there’s something knowingly, beguilingly out of time about The Price of Fame, an ostensibly humble crime caper that winds up a heartfelt plea for a more innocent way of life,” begins Guy Lodge in Variety. “Xavier Beauvois’s first film since 2010’s somber Cannes Grand Prix winner Of Gods and Men—and the first comic outing of his career—riffs jovially on the true 1978 story of two blue-collar immigrants in small-town Switzerland who exhumed Charlie Chaplin’s remains in a botched ransom attempt. Facts have been liberally altered, however, to suit Beauvois’s conception of the tale as a human comedy worthy of the Little Tramp himself.”

“The new film stars Benoît Poelvoorde as Eddy, a newly released Belgian ex-con who teams up with his friend Osman (Roschdy Zem) to undertake the grave robbery,” writes Nicolas Rapold for the New York Times. “Their efforts to get a piece of Oona’s inheritance fail spectacularly, which is precisely what hooked Mr. Beauvois. ‘They are average guys who fail,’ Mr. Beauvois said in a phone interview. ‘That’s what is so comedic about the situation. If they had succeeded, it wouldn’t be interesting.’ … Rather than approaching the historical events as straightforward drama, Mr. Beauvois embraces the comedy latent in the absurd situation, with its hints of a Chaplinesque misadventure that has very real stakes. ‘In my opinion, it’s harder to make the actors laugh than it is to make them cry. That’s easy,’ Mr. Beauvois said.”

“Sustained irony is a difficult thing to master,” writes Jessica Kiang at the Playlist, “and Beauvois’s storytelling is too linear to quite pull it off: instead of tragicomic layers, we get episodes that follow one after the other: sometimes comic, sometimes heartfelt, but only ever one thing at a time…. It all makes for a bumpy ride, though one not without its charms, particularly in yet another superb performance from great French-Moroccan actor Roschdy Zem.”

“The only thing that doesn’t quite work in the screenplay is the idea of introducing a circus, where Rosa (Chiara Mastroianni, Zem’s co-star in Don’t Forget You’re Going to Die) works and Eddy might find employment,” finds Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. “The integration of this subplot feels forced and nonsensical, as if it were absolutely necessary for a film about Chaplin, even one where he’s just a casket, to have to make one of its protagonists a literal clown too. The talented Poelvoorde, rightly considered the best sad clown of contemporary French cinema, doesn’t need these particularly on-the-nose scenes to suggest that at all, as it is already there in every scene. Unsurprisingly, Poelvoorde’s chemistry with the always-reliable Zem (Days of Glory) is just right, suggesting the two men’s complex bond that allows for moments of both shared hope and hate.”

“Beauvois’s real interest is in human drama,” writes Time Out‘s Cath Clarke: “Osman needs to pay his wife’s hospital bills…. It’s comic social realism, and Beauvois only occasionally tiptoes into sentimentality.”

For Screen‘s Dan Fainaru, “without either the touch or the pace needed to deal with a combination of comedy and social drama, all [Beauvois] can do is drag his feet for almost two hours, adding on a happy ending in the best Chaplin fashion.”

“Sadly, The Price of Fame is the kind of departure that has him heading off in entirely the wrong direction with his suitcase on the roof of his car,” adds John Bleasdale at CineVue. “Although there are scenes ripe for slapstick bungling, there is none of the surprise or grace of slapstick.”

But at Cineuropa, where Domenico La Porta interviews Beauvois, Bénédicte Prot finds the director “pouring forth wonder from a fairly dull situation.”

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