This faintly ridiculous romantic comedy-drama was a massive, sequel-spawning hit in France six years back, marking a comeback for (now 50-year-old) Jewish actor Richard Anconina, an unknown here (and on this evidence destined to remain so). It’s a rollicking rags-to-riches story set in the Jewish-dominated garment district of La Sentier in central Paris where Anconina’s euro-less goy, employed by ever-excellent Richard Bohringer’s très désagréable warehouse owner (who mistakes him for a Sephardi), makes designs on his own company and Bohringer’s attractive daughter (Amira Casar).
It’s hard to tell quite how satirical the film’s view of its character’s rampant materialism – car-graded status, sexual and commercial predatoriness – is intended to be, but the physical comedy offers the occasional guilty pleasure. On the other hand, Anconina’s dumb klutz act – downing the glass of wine at the Sabbath table – seems overfamiliar. Even if you accept the film’s assumption that his wizened, Allen-esque physique commends him immediately to women, constant references to him as a ‘young upstart!’ make you doubt the subtitles.