Emmenez-moi (2005)

Dir: Edmond Bensimon
Comedy / Drama


When his nephew, Benoît, manages to get hold of a video-camera, fifty-something Jean-Claude feels obliged to record a personal message for his lifelong hero, Charles Aznavour. Somehow this gesture proves to be insufficient and Jean-Claude decides he must deliver the message personally to the legendary singer, even if it means trekking from his hometown in Northern France to Paris. On the way, he meets an unemployed man, Arsène, who dreams of finding the courage to return to his family in Antilles, and Boris, a dimmer than average refuse collector who thinks only of his lost sweetheart. Arsène and Boris decide to tag along with Jean-Claude, convinced that the great Charles Aznavour will resolve all their personal problems. There is also the faithful Benoît, who films the eventful pilgrimage to Paris with his camera, even if he doesn't quite share his uncle's optimism about the outcome...
© filmsdefrance.com 2012

Film Review

"We're off to see the wizard..."  Part road movie, part eccentric homage to a certain Hollywood musical classic of 1939, Emmenez-moi is one of those strange low budget productions which somehow manage to charm and entertain an audience in spite of its daringly experimental approach.
Bio pic 1
It's certainly an unusual film stylistically - most of it is shot in (ugly) low resolution digital video in the manner of an amateur recording, something that would put off most spectators. The approach works, partly because it serves the script so well, allowing many of the jokes to be a lot funnier than they might otherwise have been, but also because we do get the occasional “break”. These arrive when the central character launches into a spontaneous (and sometimes highly inappropriate) rendition of a Charles Aznavour song, instantly transporting us into a colour saturated happy fantasy world, making a stark contrast with the drab colourless view of the real world. (The Wizard of Oz parallels are obvious, but there are some more subtle references for those who enjoy hunting for such things.)

Emmenez-moi is the first feature from director Edmond Bensimon, who previously scripted Michel Boujenah's comedy Père et fils (2003) and was head writer on the television series Cirque du Soleil (2003-4). The film stars Gérard Darmon, a very talented and popular actor who is - as ever - quite amazing. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the lead role in this film: he conveys not just the fired-up manic obsession of a fan who would embark on a mad odyssey and give up everything just to meet his idol, but also the brutal realism of his character's life and social situation. Jean-Claude's love of Aznavour has as much to do with his need to escape from a failed, uneventful life, as it is with the singer's obvious attractions.
Bio pic 2
Unfortunately for the film, it's a bit too obvious that Darmon is carrying the film almost entirely by himself. His lacklustre co-stars are all too easily eclipsed by his charisma, and Damien Jouillerot is actually rather annoying as Benoît (the part should have gone to a younger, more sympathetic actor). As a result, the film does feel unbalanced and lacking in substance, with the narrative struggling to keep going around its midpoint. (An eventful run in with small-minded gendarmes is a poor substitute for an encounter with the Munchkins.)

What brings things round and rewards you for sticking with the film to the end is its superb denouement, which, whilst shamelessly over-optimistic, leaves you with a good feeling, a sense that sometimes dreams can come true and that life isn't always just an endless conveyor belt of disappointments. Despite its obvious deficiencies, Emmenez-moi is a likable and original film that is both poignant and funny - a very promising debut for its director, Edmond Bensimon.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.

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Film Credits

  • Director: Edmond Bensimon
  • Script: Edmond Bensimon
  • Cinematographer: Dominique Le Rigoleur
  • Cast: Gérard Darmon (Jean-Claude Meunier), Zinedine Soualem (Boris), Lucien Jean-Baptiste (Arsène), Damien Jouillerot (Benoît), Emmanuelle Hazard (Madame Polin), Patrick Tillie (Le vieil éboueur), Witold Heretynski (Le patron de bar), Patrick Brasseur (L'épicier), Serge Flamenbaum (Le curé), Alexandre Carrière (Le blondinet), Sophie Hermelin (Caroline), Pascal Betremieux (Le policier), Marie Polet (L'infirmière du hall), Solo Gomez (L'infirmière de la chambre), Ludovic Wattier (Le routier), Oranne Dutoit (La caissière du Palais des Congrès), Gilles Bonnard (Le vigile du Palais des Congrès), Nathalie Levy-Lang (Jocelyne), Charles Aznavour (Himself)
  • Editor: Elisabeth Paquotte
  • Costume designer: Claire Gerard-Hirne
  • Producer: Gilles Bonnard, Frédéric Bourboulon, André Galzot, Pierre Kubel, Pascal Lamargot, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
  • Production company: Vendredi Film, Norimage Films, C.R.R.A.V, France 2 Cinéma, Canal+, Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France 3
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Support: Color
  • Runtime: 98 min

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