|AALTRA (director/writer: Benot Delpine/Gustave K/vern; cinematographer: Hugues Poulain; editor: Anne-Laure Gugan; music: Les Wampas; cast: Benot Delpine (Ben), Gustave K/vern (Gus), Benot Poelvoorde (fan at the Namur Grand Prix motocross), Aki Kaurismki (Finnish tractor worker), Jason Flemyng (American motorcycling champ), Isabelle Delepine (Isabelle, Ben's unhappy wife), Stefan Everts (Motor-cross champ, Himself); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Guillaume Malandrin/Vincent Tavier; Film Movement; 2004-France/Belgium-in French, German, Dutch, German, Finnish and English, with English subtitles)|
funny dark comedy."
by Dennis Schwartz
brilliant, unique, oddball, wickedly funny dark
comedy, with the kind of droll humor that might be
found in the better silents. The one joke road movie
is shot in B/W, and is flawlessly executed by
co-directors and co-writers and co-stars Benot
Delpine and Gustave K/vern, who usually work in TV.
This was the duos first cinema directorial effort, and
it's a great one.
small country village two hateful, unhappy neighbors,
the lazy farmer Gus (Gustave K/vern)
and the shirker commuter office worker Ben (Benot
Delpine) reside. Ben's boss tells him over
the phone that he's had it with him being away from
the office for the last two months and working at
home, where he's hard to reach, and shouts that if
he's not in the Paris office within 30 minutes he will
be fired. But when Ben gets in his car he is
spitefully not allowed to use the road because the
nasty neighbor Gus is on his big Finnish Aaltra
tractor harvesting the crops and refuses to let him
pass. Thereby Ben takes his motor bike and cuts across
the field and attacks Gus. The two while fighting get
entangled in the tractor and become paralyzed by a
mechanical part that gets dislodged below their
waists. Both are treated in the hospital and are
released in wheelchairs.
satirical comedy is built around these two miserable paraplegics,
without much knowledge of the law or common sense, who
independently choose to travel a couple thousand miles
in their wheelchairs to the Finland main office of the
tractor company to sue them because of faulty
equipment. They are forced by circumstances to travel
together after they are both robbed while sleeping in
the street waiting for a train confirmation needed for
people with special needs. Their travel ends up in a
series of hilarious adventures as they pass through
different countries and display such bad manners that
a visiting American motor biker (Jason
Flemyng) who is victimized by them says: It's
people like you that give fucking people in
wheelchairs a bad fucking name!
episodic funny bits are funniest when motor-cross fan
Ben attends the Namur Grand Prix event
and runs into one of the great racers and a loudmouth,
racist, know-it-all fan (Benot Poelvoorde),
who both diss him, and also how in one incident both
cripples pig out in an hospitable German family's
house as guests but are soon no longer welcomed there
after they sleep off a drunken night.
I think if you're a fan of Buster Keaton or Jacques Tati, as I am, you'll get a kick out of their deadpan antics and how subversive the pic is as it takes some good whacks at society's phony sympathy (out of guilt feelings) it too often offers to the handicapped and deliciously shows how not all cripples are nice people worthy of your affection.
REVIEWED ON 1/12/2014 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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