JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Congorama (Director: Philippe Falardeau) - October 20, 2006
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Congorama

2 2
105 min.

Coincidental buffet needs to reinvent itself

Oh my. What’s a critic to do? My expectations were so high for Philippe Falardeau’s latest, that I resisted the continuing temptation of slipping out early into the humid Busan air before the conclusion, well, the cessation of the on-screen activities. Which was a good thing, because the credit tracks were the best part of the film.

The premise looked fine (Belgian inventor of useless contraptions, notably the “Turtle Trotter”) returns to Québec to try and discover his parents after the mute, adopted father (stoically played by Jean Pierre Cassel) finally confesses to his 40-something son. While rooting around in La Belle Province, Michel (Olivier Gourmet, looking like he’s straight off the Corner Gas set) gets involved in a car crash—avoiding the certain death of an emu—but, escaping with barely a scratch, leaves the driver/survivor Louis (Paul Ahmarani) to his coma, absconding with Louis’ father’s auto-industry-changing plans for the next roadway miracle of electric cars. Er, did I mention that the totalled vehicle was, in fact, the very prototype that remained over-parked for the past two years: since the day that its madcap creator (a.k.a. the father of invention) disappeared (presumed dead? nudge, nudge). Not to mention the phone book follies featuring an avalanche of Legros (the apparent nom du famille) but nary a Legrand—double meanings of the lamest kind.

Works for me. But the realization was slower than molasses in a Sept Iles winter and even the Momento style narrative technique failed to purposely confuse/engage—mostly the former.

Miraculously recovered after 6 months in a coma (miracles come in bunches, it seems), Louis unexpectedly drops in on Michel and his Congolese family (Claudia Taylor, mother; Arnaud Mouithys, son whose wide ears and steady demeanour cast considerable doubt onto his provenance, oops, cue the birthmark!). Seems that Michel has turned the stolen drawings into his first-ever success. Before you can say “Lies Always,” secrets come spilling out in a torrent that makes the Enron brain trust seem merely “misunderstood.”

Gluing all of this together is the Expo 67 kitsch that honours Louis’ actual birthplace in the Man in the Universe pavilion and the patron saint of drivers, St. Christopher, which also has a zip code of its own in Connecticut.

Anyone still reading is probably roaring with laughter at the hilarious script and wondering if this writer has any sense humour at all. Judging by the lack of guffaws from those assembled in Busan, the joke may, indeed, be on the producers.

Sorry I can’t reproduce the catchy tune to accompany the credits below. JWR

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