Mammuth

Film

Comedy

Mammuth.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue May 31 2011

It’s something of a coup that Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine’s fourth film, after the likes of ‘Aaltra’ and ‘Louise-Michel’, is also their most poignant to date. Partly that’s because it includes the most outrageous, perverse and heartbreakingly tender scene in their small but defiantly bad-taste oeuvre. Gérard Depardieu excels as laconic, hang-dog abattoir worker Serge, who goes on an ad hoc motorcycle tour of the French countryside to retrieve work permits from past employers which would make him eligible for a retirement payout. His quest, it soon transpires, is impossible, due in large part to his fumbling, sweetly inarticulate manner, but also because the records of his employment have long since been dumped in the bin of history. Undeterred, Serge takes a beguiling detour to visit his similarly unworldly niece, a sculptor of plastic dolls played by real-life outsider artist Miss Ming. The film shifts into the realms of the poetic and sets an early precedent for a heartbreaking and abstract finale.

Like an X-rated ‘Mr Bean’ written by Charles Bukowski, the gauche humour of ‘Mammuth’ camouflages a sweet torch song to the struggles of the working class in the face of private- and public-sector indifference. It’s photographed in warm, fuzzy Super16, a grimy aesthetic that suits its poverty-line milieu. Isabelle Adjani has a cameo as the ghost of a dead lover, while Yolande Moreau delivers humorous support from the sidelines as Serge’s harried wife.
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Release details

UK release:

Fri Jun 3, 2011

Duration:

87 mins

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Phil Ince

I found myself thinking Mammuth had something of what The Simpsons movie could have had if it had been made at that series' sublimely ludicrous peak in 1996 (imagine a filmic merger of Bart on the Road, Homerpalooza and 22 Short Films about Springfield. But do remember this is still a French film so that it's ultimately more sober than a cartoon. But it catches The Simpsons' trick of the A/B plot, fleeting character studies and a clever episodic 'sketch' structure allowed by needing Depardieu to visit 10 former employers across the region by motorbike. It looks beautiful and it's played perfectly. My favourite moment is Depardieu's baffled discovery of a corpse on the floor of a supermarket and his magnificent row with an ill-mannered worker at the meat counter. The gradual coming to life a of a ghostly figure from his past is beautifully played. This is a wonderful absorption into French cinema of an American-style road movie.

Phil Ince

I found myself thinking Mammuth had something of what The Simpsons movie could have had if it had been made at that series' sublimely ludicrous peak in 1996 (imagine a filmic merger of Bart on the Road, Homerpalooza and 22 Short Films about Springfield. But do remember this is still a French film so that it's ultimately more sober than a cartoon. But it catches The Simpsons' trick of the A/B plot, fleeting character studies and a clever episodic 'sketch' structure allowed by needing Depardieu to visit 10 former employers across the region by motorbike. It looks beautiful and it's played perfectly. My favourite moment is Depardieu's baffled discovery of a corpse on the floor of a supermarket and his magnificent row with an ill-mannered worker at the meat counter. The gradual coming to life a of a ghostly figure from his past is beautifully played. This is a wonderful absorption into French cinema of an American-style road movie.

Paul Murphy

Another wonderful film from Kervern & Delepine but as well as their usual roll-about humour they add a touching warmth as former romantic idol Depardieu is now haggard but still manages a Quixotic romantic quest on the titular motorbike, breaking out of his quotidian pig product world. Topical Like Louise Michel. Topical too (more difficult pensions). Wonderful - deserves a wider release.

Paul Murphy

Another wonderful film from Kervern & Delepine but as well as their usual roll-about humour they add a touching warmth as former romantic idol Depardieu is now haggard but still manages a Quixotic romantic quest on the titular motorbike, breaking out of his quotidian pig product world. Topical Like Louise Michel. Topical too (more difficult pensions). Wonderful - deserves a wider release.