I can’t remember a time when I have been to see a feature-length film and hadn’t first watched the trailer or – at the very least – read something about it before seeing it. Like most people, I generally have some expectations (good, bad and occasionally ugly) of a film when I go to the movies so the prospect of watching a film that I knew almost nothing about was somewhat of a novelty – kind of thrilling, even! When I took my seat at the Paramount theater in Austin, the only thing that I knew about Micmacs was that it was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who also helmed two of my favorite movies, Amelie and Delicatessen.)
Before the screening began, the director came out and introduced the film and revealed only that the title roughly translated to the English word “shenanigans” before exciting the stage with a promise to return after the film. It was exciting to be left in the dark – figuratively and literally, for a moment – I had good reason to think that I may like this movie but no way of knowing that by the end of the reel I would be utterly besotted. In essence, Micmacs is a revenge tale about a man, Bazil (Danny Boon), against two weapon manufacturers. Assisted by a small band of his uniquely talented friends, Bazil employs Rube Goldberg-esque machinations to exact his intricate and elegant plan of vengeance. Perhaps because I enjoyed going into the film knowing nothing about it, I am hesitant to give much more away than that.
There is something timeless and familiar about Micmacs – during the follow-up Q and A with the director, Jeunet mentioned that he had a strong fondness for nostalgia and in fact pays sly homage to several films in his latest release. Jeunet often casts actors with interesting faces, Dominique Pinon and Yolande Moreau (both frequent collaborators with Jeunet) join the troupe and add to the feeling of familiarity. It is also worth noting that the film looks tremendous – with rich set pieces and beautifully shot by Tetsuo Nagata – you could take any frame from this film and it would make a gorgeous still. Jeunet, who frequently works with storyboards before shooting his films, has an incredible eye for composition and color – his hard work pays off in his visual storytelling. Utilizing an excellent score, nimble pacing, and humor, Micmacs tells a truly original and engaging story – the year is early yet, but this is already one of my favorites.
The bar has been set high.
Micmacs, 2009. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and written by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant. 5/5