Judge Brett Cullum weighs in on the first French Finnish gay farce about Passover!
French farce done with a crazy amount of style and smiles.
Let My People Go! is a film that merges the sensibilities of French farce with early Woody Allen, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, and the charm of Amelie. It's probably the first Finnish French Jewish Gay movie, and it feels as unique as it sounds.
Ruben (Nicolas Murray, You and the Night) is a gay Frenchman living in Finland and working as a postman. He has an idyllic boyfriend in Teemu (Jarkko Niemi, Body Fat Index of Love), but one day everything is thrown into upheaval by a customer who refuses a package which contains a lot of money. The postal recipient expires from a heart attack, and poor Ruben has to decide what to do. Does he call the police? Does he keep the money? After he and Teemu have a huge fight over what is morally right, he flees to Paris to be with his Jewish family who is about to celebrate Passover. From there all heck breaks loose as Ruben has to confront his doting mother (Carmen Maura, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and distant father. Once home Ruben has to figure out what his role is in his family and the world while still trying to suss out what to do about his predicament and how to win back the love of his life.
What makes this film tick is it is not afraid to make the mincing nelly Ruben the hero of the story, and break any and all stereotypes about gays and Jews in one fail swoop. He is a mass of cliché, but also a breath of new fresh air in cinema. Let My People Go! knows how to juggle both what we expect with what we don't see coming while using a comic flourish coupled with its handsome production design. The whole affair feels like a master stroke from the brain of someone like a Pedro Almodovar or Woody Allen, but rather comes from Mikael Buch and Cristophe Honore. Sets are colorful, actors are willing to go the distance, and the timing is spot on throughout. It's a fun romp that is well worth seeking out if you are a fan of gay foreign cinema. At its heart is a gay couple you don't mind rooting for, and a family deserving of their presence and all the dysfunction they bring along. The plot is pure farce, and at several times threatens to derail itself. Yet that is half the fun, and it carries on a tradition of the sex comedy even while reinventing some of its more formal trappings.
The DVD from Zeitgeist Films is strong in presentation, especially on the technical side. The transfer is crisp enough to relay all of the bold color choices of the production team, never missing a beat to show incredible depth and clarity in the image. Colors pop and aid in the comedic tone of everything. The sole extra is a segment on the production design, which makes sense since that is the most arresting element of the film. It has a powerful visual team behind it which ranks among the best of Almodovar or even Wes Anderson. It stands out, and deserves the supplemental attention. There is also a trailer, but nothing else to support the film.
Let My People Go! is a wonderful-looking fairy tale movie that is as much fun as it is fresh. An unlikely hero, some quirky set design, and broad comedy all merge to make it an enjoyable romp. There's plenty going on here to entertain, and it comes off as witty and unexpected. It's the film you wish Almodovar had made at some point rather than focusing on Penelope Cruz's breasts for half a feature. It's queer, funny, and not afraid to take on all the stereotypes head-on.
Guilty of being a zany farce with a fabulous twist!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Zeitgeist Films
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