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Blog Posted in avatar   Johnny Summerton's Blog

"The Artist" triumphs at French film awards but disappointment for Jean Dujardin

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Feb 25, 2012 in Entertainment
French actor Jean Dujardin might well be among the frontrunners to pick up the Oscar in the Best Actor category but guess what.
He hasn't won the French equivalent, the César.
Those awards were handed out on Friday evening at a luvvies' ceremony event held at Le Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
The Césars are definitely not on the same OTT par as their US equivalent but, for the French film industry, they're just as important.
So who won the award for Best Actor?
Omar Sy.
Who, you might be asking.
Well film buffs might be aware that the 34-year-old played one of the lead roles in the French comedy that has taken this country by storm, "Intouchables."
The film made by directors Eric Tolédano and Olivier Nakache took the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, paralysed from the neck down in a paragliding accident in 1993, and the man he paid to look after him Abdel Sellou and adapted it for the big screen.
It is, in the words of some of the official blurb "the meeting of two 'handicaps' - one physical the other social."
"Following a paragliding accident, Philippe (played by François Cluzet), a rich aristocrat, is in need of someone to look after him. He hires Driss (played by Omar Sy), a young man from the "troubled" inner suburbs of Paris and just out of prison. In short the person least suited for the job. Together they reconcile Vivaldi and Earth Wind and Fire, repartees and ghetto jokes, tailored suits and tracksuits..."
"Intouchables" touches more than just one nerve. It makes you laugh and cry as the performances, especially of the excellent Omar Sy, carry you along. The dialogue is credible, the situation less so - but that's the beauty really because it's based on a true story; Yes fact can be stranger than fiction.
Packing 'em in right from the beginning, Intouchables went on general release on November 2 and three weeks later, six million people had already seen it.
Queues outside cinemas were long - very long - and booking ahead more than advisable.
And the phenomenon just kept going. To date the film has put more than 19 million bums on seats in France - not bad in a country with a population of around 65 million.
Forget those stuffy US reviewers (such as Variety's Jay Weissberg) who just didn't "get it" (perhaps they don't speak a word of French) and labelled it as running to stereotypes or at worst "racist".
Film critics in France and industry insiders couldn't quite believe how badly the US had seemed to understand the humanity behind the film.
Perhaps they'll be happier when the inevitable own all-American version is made.
A deserved award for Sy, and perhaps disappointment for Dujardin who is, of course, now on his way to Hollywood to try his luck at the Oscars.
There was more than a little consolation for The Artist though as it picked up six Césars on the night including the biggies Best Film, Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius and keeping it in the family Best Actress went to Hazanavicius' partner, Bérénice Bejo.
There were also gongs for The Artist for Best Original Music, photography and decor.

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