Genre: Action/ Comedy
Director: Francis Veber
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
The situation is pure boilerplate. Gangster Ruby (Jean Reno) is having an affair with the girlfriend of his boss, Vogel (Jean-Pierre Malo). He’s also stealing from him. When Vogel finds out, he promptly caps the girl. Ruby wants revenge and Vogel still wants his money back.
Don’t think I’ve given anything away here. Writer/director Francis Veber disposes of this information in minutes. He knows that it’s only the framework of his movie.
The real subject is the relationship between Ruby and Quentin (Gérard Depardieu), a criminal who is the exact opposite of Ruby. Quentin is dim-witted and sociable. Ruby is intelligent and a loner.
These two meet when they’re put in the same jail cell. Somehow, Quentin becomes convinced that Ruby is his best friend and dogs him for the rest of the film. In a sense, even though the film’s action ranges through Paris, Ruby remains in prison. As much as he would like to, Ruby cannot escape from Quentin.
Gérard Depardieu is brilliant as the idiotic Quentin. It’s hard to express how stupid Depardieu makes this character seem. The main source of comedy in Shut Up! is the pained expressions on the characters who are forced to deal with Quentin. Anyone who has ever endured sustained close proximity with an abysmally moronic boss or relative will appreciate their suffering.
Fortunately, as Quentin’s main victim, Jean Reno turns out to be a virtuoso of dismay and disgust. His slow burns are laugh out loud funny.
Writer/director Francis Veber knows exactly how to treat this material.
The picture is perfectly cast. Besides the leads, Jean-Pierre Malo makes a droll villain. As Vernet, the cop who is trying to catch Ruby, Richard Berry’s line readings are bone dry. The prison psychiatrist’s (André Dussollier) struggles to maintain his professionalism in the face of Quentin’s stupidity brought a smile to my face. It’s all very French.
The pacing and cinematography are appropriately brisk and bright.
Shut Up! is light entertainment, a souffle, but that’s harder to execute than you’d think. Sit through a few American buddy comedies and I’m sure you’ll agree.