"Micmacs," about a man who vows revenge against the weapons manufacturers that he blames for the death of his father and the bullet in his own head, finds writer-director Jean Pierre Jeunet up to his old tricks, and they remain as entertaining and clever as ever.
The film follows Bazil (Danny Boon) from his days as a young boy learning of his father's death while clearing land mines in the Sahara, to the night a botched robbery in Paris leaves a bullet lodged in his own forehead.
Bazil leaves the hospital after several weeks to find that he's lost both his job and home. After a brief stint as a street performer, he's taken into a subterranean family of misfit salvage experts: a human calculator, an ethnographer who speaks exclusively in idioms, a contortionist, a human cannonball...
Jeunet, the man behind "Delicatessen," "City of Lost Children" and "Amalie," once again inhabits his film with all manner of machines that are as delicate and inventive as the situations in which we find them. The film does sag a bit towards the middle, as Jeunet takes his foot off the pedal, dragging the pace a to a crawl, but the lull is fleeting.
Boon and the rest of the cast give the kind of spirited performances fans of Jeunet have come to expect from his actors. French TV star Omar Sy's turn as Remington, so-called because he writes with an old typewriter, is a hilarious firecracker of jumbled cliches, and Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon's face remains absurdly expressive.
The film is a pointed attack on arms makers and warmongers, and yet it remains a lighthearted fairy tale of sorts. What makes this work is the moral (over) simplicity it brings to the issue -- there's no question in Jeunet's mind that Bazil's revenge is well aimed -- and the fact that the pound of flesh that Bazil extracts doesn't bleed. "Micmacs" manages to be smart, funny and political without being pedantic or preachy.
"Micmacs" is showing at Tribeca on April 29 & 30 and May 1 before going into limited release on May 28