Sunday, 26 April 2009

No. 110 : Welcome to the Sticks




With stamps going up a massive three pence recently the postal service needs a public relations makeover and it arrives quicker than Parcel Force in the shape of this French comedy.

At first glace the film is a bit of a hard sell dealing as it does with the differing perceptions of southern French people of their northern cousins. Many of the jokes are based on the nuances of language and behaviour and for an outsider looking in it could be seen as an unappealing prospect. The ‘W’ quest however comes up trumps again and a film I wouldn’t normally have sought out turned out to be a real gem.

The film opens with a hen pecked French postal manager being bullied into applying for a plum position at a sea side post office. Although he has a nice life in the south his pushy wife insists that the new job should be won by fair means or foul. After jumping the queue by faking a disability our man is found out and to his horror he is punished with a transfer to the north.

His wife refuses to join him on the two year assignment and everyone is sympathetic as they all know that the northern French are a bunch of drunken barbarians. He is even let off for driving too slowly on the motorway when he tells the policeman of his destination. His worst fears are soon realised when he gets to his empty apartment and the few locals he meets are drunk or unintelligible.

Things quickly change however when our man embraces new things such as the Chip van and the football. His staff turn out to be a stand up bunch and after furnishing his flat they take him out drinking with the locals. So much fun is had that he’s reluctant to return to his wife and when the weekend is over he is stopped by the same motorcycle cop, only this time for speeding to his destination.

As he settles into the job he learns of the tangles love lives of his staff and resolves to help them as they have him. Trouble looms however when the wife decides to visit and the staff resolve to scare her off by acting to the stereotypes he perceives about them.

With the north declared not as bad as first thought our hero must decide whether he loves his new life or his wife more and can the two be rationalised?

This is a really enjoyable film that is funny and heart warming throughout. It is little surprise to learn that it enjoyed France’s biggest box office take ever as they must have lapped up the ridiculous notions they have about each other being exposed for the stereotypes they are. Many of the jokes went over my head with the subtitles sometimes reading ‘no translation possible’ when some regional dialect pun is made. It’s easy to overlook this however as the warm and joyous nature of the film would gladden the stoniest of hearts.

Best Bit : The boss shows how deliveries should be done

‘W’ Rating 20/23

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