At a glance:
The titular 36 refers to the year in which this delightful little pre-WWII musical was set, when a rundown theatre hall takes centrestage as love stories and political games play themselves out to complete audience satisfaction. If you thought director Christophe Barratier's Les Choristes (The Chorus) in 2004 was great, then this followup is no short of absolutely grand. Garnerin fair attention at the Cesars this year, Paris 36 is whimsical as much as musical. It's one of those full-package movies like La Vita E Bella, the sort that takes you through a spectrum of emotions and leave you hangin onto the cinema curtains when the end credits roll. We follow stage manager Pigoil (Gerard Jugnot), a dejected man with a cheatin wife, who loses his son Jojo (Maxence Perrin) to the family affairs authorities after the fascist, kingpin landlord Galapiat (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) shuts down his beloved Chansonia. Not about to throw in the towel, he tries to revive the establishment with bumblin sound impersonator Jacky (Kad Merad) and rabble-rousin firebrand Milou (Clovis Cornillac) as they go against all odds to make somethin out of their lives. Enterin into all their lives unannounced is a bright, beautiful aspirin singer named Douce (Nora Arnezeder) and we get a glorious costume story in epic proportions.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Not an important movie that must be made, like say Édith Piaf biopic La Môme @ La Vie En Rose but it sure is a tidy effort that celebrates cinema, entertainment and the performin arts.
If Picturehouse at Damansara's Cathay Cineplex will be revived to bring in titles like this for the 0.01% of appreciative Malaysians who don't get to watch it, unlike neighbourin Singapore.
Watch out for:
Nora Arnezeder (pic) was Meilleur Espoir Feminin and La Revelation Feminine (that's Most Promising Young Actress and Best Female Newcomer to you and I) at the Lumiere and Étoiles d'Or in France this year. Simply dazzlin as the ideals-laden ingenue who dreams of the moon on a stick, sashayin back and forth in the movie like an object that's always out of your reach.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Critic Roger Ebert has said that this is a movie that he would absolutely adore if he watched it before he was born, notin that the movie lacks "a certain energy". Well, he may not be too far off the mark but as far as musicals are concerned, we have French cinema to thank for givin us some accordian music every now and then. Me, I'm just happy to let a little joy in.★★★★