La Chevre (1981)

“He looks normal enough.”

When Marie Bens (Corynne Charbit) the accident-prone daughter of a wealthy French businessman goes missing while on holiday in Mexico, her father Alexandre Bens (Michel Robin) employs detective Campana (Gerard Depardieu) to find her. But six weeks later, it seems that she’s disappeared without a trace. And that’s when Bens’ company psychologist comes up with the brilliant plan of teaming Campana with Francois Perrin (Pierre Richard), from the accounting department. The psychologist demonstrates that Perrin is also accident prone, and he reasons that since a series of bad-luck events led to Marie’s disappearance, perhaps someone with the same history of bad luck will stumble upon some clues.

This is an “all-else-has-failed” approach, but it works with hilarious results. Campana, returns to Mexico with Perrin in tow. These two men have a completely different world-view, and while Campana begins the journey believing there’s no such thing as bad luck, a few hours in Perrin’s company changes his mind. Soon these two incredibly dissimilar men are juggling prostitutes, kidnappers, and the Mexican police in their pursuit of Marie Bens.

La Chevre  is written and directed by Francis Veber, and he used the highly successful teaming of Depardieu and Richard again in his later film Les Comperes. Like most French comedies, a great deal of the humour focuses on farce and slapstick, and there are parts of the film that are laugh-out-loud funny. Campana’s incredulous reactions to Perrin’s idiocy are particularly funny, and this is a great–although understated–role for Depardieu. Campana finds Perrin irritating and annoying, and there are several points in the film when he tentatively tests the bad luck theory with hilarious results. The camera cleverly catches the subtle nuances of Campana’s studied indifference that covers both his frustration and the gradual acceptance of the fact that Perrin does indeed have terrible luck. The French comedy La Chevre  is preposterous, but that won’t stop you from enjoying this silly, good-natured film. If you enjoy French comedy, and just want a good laugh, then I recommend La Chevre. In French with English subtitles.

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Filed under Comedy, France, Gerard Depardieu

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