Watch The Trailer
Storyline (warning: spoilers)
French writer-director Albert Dupontel and Britain’s Terry Gilliam, who appears briefly in
Dupontel’s Bye, Bye, Morons, are brothers in political pessimism. Both give every sign of
believing in an imminent future where bureaucracy has gone crazy in its willingness to sacrifice
individual rights to that false god, organisational efficiency. Gilliam laid it all out in Brazil (1985),
his absurdist look at the lengths to which a society might go in its efforts to get its citizens to toe
the line and it’s clear Dupontel has taken the film’s lessons to heart. You could read Bye, Bye,
Morons as an update, sharing the same anarchic spirit and sense of the ridiculous.
It also demonstrates a healthy respect for the power of coincidence. When we first meet them,
Suze Trappet (Virginie Efira) and Jean-Baptiste Cuchas (Dupontel) are unlikely allies. She’s a
hairdresser who has just received the grim news that she’s about to die from an auto-immune
disease contracted through the sprays she uses at work. He’s a civil servant who has been
retrenched despite his technological brilliance because the boss wants to be surrounded by
fresher faces. As a final insult, he’ll be required to train these tyros before he goes. He’s now on
the run and his wanderings lead him to Suze, who’s embarked on a quest. She’s searching for
the child she was forced to give up for adoption when she was 15 and Jean-Baptiste’s ability to
find the key to any public records portal is going to be an enormous help.
Suze and Jean-Baptiste work mainly by night, aided by a blind archivist, who has been interred
by his bosses at the bottom of a dark and lonely corridor in Public Records. Dupontel doesn’t
have much time for comedy’s finer lines. Broad strokes describe his style, which means it errs
on the sloppy side. But he’s a surprisingly subtle actor and Jean-Baptiste’s make-over from
nervy company man into increasingly confident swashbuckler is managed with great aplomb.
The film has appealed to the French propensity for sticking it to authority. A box-office hit, it’s
also won seven Cesars, including best picture and best director.