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BERLINALE 2022 Panorama

Review: Nobody’s Hero

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- BERLINALE 2022 : Alain Guiraudie examines the psyche of “Deep France” through an unrestrained vaudeville both tender and ironic, against the backdrop of fears about terrorist attacks and immigrants

Review: Nobody’s Hero
Jean-Charles Clichet in Nobody's Hero

"Some very bad things are happening here." A husband suddenly emerges into a hotel room in which his wife, a sex worker, is offering (and offering herself) sexual gratuification free of charge (a cunnilingus she is enjoying enormously) to an enamoured stranger encountered by chance that very morning. Not only that, but the reason for the interruption is a terrorist attack a few streets away (and which is already being broadcast on loop on the hotel room’s television). Finally, to conclude the debate (and the antics) despite the protests of the fake client (“just because a terrorist attack has happened doesn’t mean everything has to come to a halt”), the husband forces his wife to give the money back (and therefore to offer money, since this was free, but that’s a secret). Thus the viewer finds themselves perfectly propelled into the entertaining offbeat register of Nobody’s Hero [+see also:
trailer
interview: Alain Guiraudie
film profile
]
, the new film from Alain Guiraudie, which has opened the Panorama section of the 72nd Berlinale.

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Guiraudie embraces an openly lighthearted and comedic style reminiscent of vaudeville theatre, where characters simultaneously banal and flamboyant are encountered repeatedly and derision is heavily accentuated yet never malicious. Almost parodically borrowing from the cop movie (amateurs shadowing suspects, an arrest, a shootout) and the popular comedy (neighbours bicker constantly, with as many misunderstandings and doorbells ringing as possible), Guiraudie gives a sideways glance at today’s France in what is ultimately a very serious portrait.

The film deals with terrorist attacks, collective paranoia (nurtured by non-stop news channels), xenophobia and the defense of one’s territory, including from those who initially appear to harbour the best intentions. Indeed, what happens when, in an already anxiety-inducing context, a young Arab man like Semil (Iliès Kadri), homeless, takes refuge from the winter cold in the stairwell of your building? Through Médéric (Jean-Charles Clichet), concerned but nevertheless torn by his conscience and most of all utterly occupied by his passion for the sex worker Isadora (Noémie Lvovsky), many unexpected, surprising and even staggering things will occur. They will involve his neighbours (led by the hilarious Michel Masiero), a clingy colleague (Doria Tillier), a mysterious pair of receptionists (Miveck Packa and Yves-Robert Viala), a very jealous husband (Renaud Rutten), an extremely suspicious and intrusive policeman (Patrick Ligardes), etc.

Playing with cliches and painting a particularly funny portrait of contemporary French people, in the very cinegenic town of Clermont-Ferrand, Nobody’s Hero may confused those who only know Guiraudie’s cinema from his last two films (Stranger by the Lake [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alain Guiraudie
film profile
]
and Staying Vertical [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alain Guiraudie
film profile
]
), but early admirers of the director’s peculiar and liberated tone, which injects realism with extravagance, will appreciate the film as it deserves to be. 

Produced by CG Cinéma, co-produced by Arte France Cinéma, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Cinéma and Umédia, Nobody’s Hero is sold internationally by Les Films du Losange (who will be handling the film’s distribution in France on 2 March).

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(Translated from French)

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