Review: Mon Ket
by Aurore Engelen
- In his debut feature film, François Damiens returns to his first love, and the gamble pays off: creating a full feature film using hidden cameras
Dany Versavel (François Damiens), a big-mouthed thug with no filter, is serving a long-term prison sentence, which he intends to cut short when he learns that his young teenage son, Sullivan (Mattéo Salamone), has decided to seek legal emancipation. His son is his only remaining pride and joy, so Dany escapes, dragging along Sullivan and his "godfather" (Christian Brahy) with him on an escapade as beautiful as it is absurd. On their way, they meet a ton of witnesses who become accomplices or opponents in turn. Dany hopes to correct past mistakes with Sulli, and over the course of just a few days tries to make up for an upbringing that has been patchy at best until now, for better (sometimes) or for worse (often).
It is also this clumsy, cumbersome fatherly love that serves as a common thread for the addition of some occasionally disparate scenes, which are all underpinned by the same tenderness, allowing the audience to forgive some of the direr offences. Because François Damiens has a great time bringing his directorial debut, Mon Ket [+see also:
interview: François Damiens
film profile], to life, creating a spectacularly socially inept character who interacts without any sort of filter or embarrassment. As a result, his victims' reactions add some spice to a screenplay that takes risks in the face of the unexpected. The writing more or less lands on its feet thanks to the unknowing benevolence and wealth of its "actors," who are also listed in the credits of Mon Ket along with François Damiens and his two supporting acolytes, who hold their own brilliantly throughout the film. The young Mattéo Salamone is impressive and mature in both complex and funny situations, and the incredible Christian Brahy, a larger-than-life character, is almost too good to be true.
Dany is deliberately provocative, without any embarrassment or modesty. The humanity of his "victims," who are either accomplices or adversaries, is somewhat necessary in order to appease him. And it takes all the mastery of the hero and director to tread a rather thin line without surrendering to condescension or a breach of trust. It's quite an art in itself, to flirt with the limits, to go to the borders of embarrassment, to push the involuntary witnesses (and actors) of Dany's escapades to their limits, without ever giving into the temptation of jeering at them. Because we always laugh with the anonymous characters in Mon Ket, never at their expense.
And so, the gamble paid off. A sequence of absurd scenes, Dany’s energy –who indulges himself in the pleasure of destabilising the rest of the players, provoking them and going where few would dare to go – and the authenticity of "trapped" promoted actors only add to the comic situation, served by an art of replication that Damiens has perfected over many years. Mon Ket imposes itself as a devilishly effective and surprisingly tender comedy about a father ready for anything, starting with the worst, so that he can finally become worthy in the eyes of his son.
Mon Ket was produced by Patrick Quinet for Artemis Productions (which has accompanied François Damiens' career in Belgium for many years), and Chi-Fou-Mi Productions in France. It is due to be distributed on 30 May in Belgium by Cinéart, and in France by StudioCanal, which is also handling international sales.
(Translated from French)
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