Gerard Depardieu stars in road trip comedy
Directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern have shown a talent to amuse with politically-incorrect, deadpan delights like Aaltra (2004) and Louise-Michel (still awaiting a Scottish cinema release). Mammuth offers more of the same with the addition of a César-nominated star turn from Gérard Depardieu and a tone that veers towards the sensibility of American independent directors like Jim Jarmusch and Alexander Payne. The result is engaging and frequently hilarious but leaves a slight suspicion that the move towards the mainstream has blunted some of the spiky irreverence of their previous work.
Sporting flowing fair hair and an ample belly, Depardieu seems to be enjoying himself enormously as the boorish, lumbering Serge. Just turned 60, Serge has retired from his job at a slaughterhouse but discovered that his pension is in doubt because of the bureaucratic incompetence of his past employers. Mounting his trusty Mammut motorcycle and biding au revoir to his longsuffering wife Catherine (Yolande Moreau), he sets off on a road trip to collect ten affidavits testifying that his claim is genuine.
Naturally, the journey becomes one of enlightenment, guided by the ghost of an old girlfriend (Isabelle Adjani) and inspired by his unconventional niece, Solange (Miss Ming). Piecing together the value of his past allows a transformed Serge to face the future in a film that nicely balances melancholy with mischief.
Selected release from Fri June 3.