Have you ever cooked something and had all the right ingredients but it’s still turned out not quite right? Well, that’s a lot like the experience of watching Jonathan Zaccaï’s Play It Like Godard.This French mockumentary held a lot of promise – from its premise to its title – and yet it still left you with the feeling that there was at least a little something missing.
Originally named J.C. comme Jésus Christ in French, the flick was less Godard, more God complex. The idea was that a “documentary film crew” would have full, cart blanche access to J.C. (Vincent Lacoste (The French Kissers)) for ten days. J.C. was styled as one “interesting” character having won the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the age of 15 and the César at 16.
The synopsis also painted the star as a mixture of Jean Luc-Godard and Justin Bieber. But what is supposed to be a Jim Carey-esque “life as a TV show” or Big Brother-style portrait of a creative directorial genius, shows little more than an exasperated yuppie “artist” bossing people around. But this is mainly reserved for his parents who deliver his favourite cereal almost on cue, leaving J.C. to deliver some unfunny monologues.
This docu-fiction attempts to take aim at fame and fortune and the usual fawning that occurs with precocious child prodigies. There are some funny and absurd moments but for the most part it is far too subtle for a non-French audience with the droll/deadpan delivery likely to go over most people’s heads.
The other problem is that J.C. appears to wear a perpetual sneer – not just for his casting director, teacher-turned-script girl or the other film types in his employ – but it often seems for the audience. He may have a bouffant Dylan-esque hair style and Buddy Holly glasses but his arms are constantly crossed and you do feel like this narcissistic “Rock ‘n’ Roll Prince Of Cinema” is having the last laugh by patronising people.
Play It Like Godard is redeemed – at least somewhat – by some nice scenes of Paris and the short run-time. But the rest of it remains either “cute” or a good idea sabotaged by a cynical caricature that while weird and ambitious just doesn’t work. Play It Like Godard is pleasant enough but you are left feeling that a lot of it has either been lost in translation or is lurking in the shadows of the star’s self-proclaimed talent or ego.
Review score: 2.5 stars
Originally published on 18 June 2012 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/sydney-film-festival-2012-review-play-it-like-godard-ctc
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