Amalric goes behind the scenes of show business
by Fabien Lemercier
- Energetic, surprising and full of undeniable charm, the film directed by and starring Mathieu Amalric won Best Director at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival
Actor Mathieu Amalric, internationally renowned since his roles in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [+see also:
film profile] and Quantum of Solace [+see also:
film profile], made an impressive first competition outing as a director at the Cannes Film Festival with his fourth feature: On Tour [+see also:
interview: Mathieu Amalric
interview: Mathieu Amalric
Energetic, surprising and full of undeniable charm, the film, in which the director stars alongside five vivacious American women from the New Burlesque troupe, cleverly juggles comedy and melancholy. It also paints a realistic portrait of the behind-the-scenes world of show business, whilst celebrating women and their bodies without prejudice.
"I felt protected, invincible, like a prince returning to my country”. A well-known former producer for French television, Joachim Zand (Amalric) returns from a stint in the US with five unusual "show-girls" (costumes, feathers, false eyelashes, jewellery and striptease … and physiques very different from the standard canons of beauty) for whom he organises a tour in several French ports: Le Havre, Nantes, La Rochelle… The film wonderfully depicts this life of incandescent artists, who enliven concert halls, hotels and trains, fuelled by champagne and overexcitement, dreaming of Paris and combating homesickness with infectious humour.
This highly professional female quintet (who are joined by an over-excited stripper and a shy assistant) inflame audiences with their stage sense and bare flesh, infusing On Tour with an original and wild energy, a mix of human simplicity and theatrical sophistication. This energy is perfectly reinforced by the beautiful work on the light, the well-paced road-movie rhythm and a lively soundtrack.
The film also sketches the portrait of a producer trying to make a comeback in his native country after a once glorious career that seems to have ended badly, as confirmed by the reproaches, insults and knocks he suffers when trying to get his girls a place on a Parisian stage. He’s a meticulous and attentive producer, who night and day looks after the well-being of his extravagant artists, coaxing them, hurrying them along, loving them ("you’re my family"), whereas he doesn’t have a clue what to do during one single day with his two young teenage sons, whom he has hardly seen grow up, it would appear. As a producer, he struggles on a daily basis because "the show must go on" and manages to be inventive, even when completely alone, when everything seems impossible.
His role in On Tour is tailor-made for Amalric and he plays it to perfection, as a producer nicknamed “the prince of frogs” by the sensual, moving and vibrant New Burlesque girls and who, in one of the film’s dialogues, quotes (without naming her) the writer Colette (who inspired the screenplay): "running impatiently, talking, cackling like hens, through the illusion of living fast (…) and having neither regrets, remorse or memories".
Produced by Les Films du Poisson, On Tour was co-produced by Arte France Cinéma and Germany’s Neue Mediopolis Film Produktion, with backing from the CNC and the Franco-German mini-treaty, as well as pre-acquisitions from Canal + and TPS. Le Pacte is handling international sales.
(Translated from French)