Wednesday, 22 August 2012

OSS 117: Lost in Rio

OSS 117: Lost in Rio is the sequel to one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and is bought to us by the team behind that film and The Artist, Oscar Winners Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin. A James Bond pastiche, Dujardin stars as OSS 177, France’s top secret agent. It’s 1967 and he is on a mission to capture a microfilm containing the names of French Nazi collaborators from an ex-Nazi now residing in Brazil. He is joined by a beautiful Israeli Army Officer, Delores Koulechov (Louise Monot) who is tasked with bringing the Nazi back to Israel to face a war crimes tribunal. 117 bumbles his way through Brazil with the help of his Israeli colleague, attracting the interest of various women and the CIA along the way.

I was really excited to see this sequel as Cairo, Nest of Spies is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in the last year. I’d previously read that the sequel wasn’t as well received in France as the original and I’d have to agree with that assessment. It is in no way as good as Cairo, Nest of Spies but is still an enjoyable hour and a half.

Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed Cairo, Nest of Spies so much was because of Jean Dujardin’s performance as OSS 117. He is also very good here but the novelty has worn off. He has the style and eyebrows of Sean Connery’s Bond and the stupidity and big mouth of Austin Powers but I’ve seen it before and wasn’t as blown away by his performance this time around. Louise Monot is fine as the female lead but lacks the spark provided by Berenice Bejo who was excellent in the first film and will one day divorce Hazanavicius and come and join my harem alongside Oona Chaplin and Scarlet Johansson. Hazanivicius’ direction was equally as good as in the original, capturing the camera movement and style of the period but this time failing to the capture the period feel in quite the same way as Cairo, Nest of Spies. I didn’t feel like I was watching a film from 1968 as I did in the original. The score and costumes though were excellent.

The film is fairly funny but I only laughed a few times. I felt that it stood on a very fine line between making fun of racism and actually being racist. The frequent references to Jews and Chinks felt a little overdone and didn’t sit well with me. It also cheapened the film quite a bit and I don’t remember the original relying so heavily on jokes about race and ethnicity, although there were a few Arab jokes in there. Overall the comedy was more sparse here than in Nest of Spies but I did enjoy some of the more physical comedy. I also enjoyed the LSD flashback, the multiple person phone call and the scene in which Dujardin is fired at hundreds of times but each bullet misses. The wrestling scene was also pretty strange but funny, as was his fancy dress costume. My main problem was that the film didn’t appear to be as deeply layered with gags as the original but it is still definitely a funny film.

The plot is fairly incidental and I actually felt confused a couple of times. This may have been because I’d watched the opening half hour at two am last weekend and finished it tonight though. Really the plot doesn’t matter as it’s purely a construct for Dujardin to make us laugh in but it wasn’t particularly exciting or engaging. I felt that the Rio angle may have been better explored as a portion of the film rather than the entire film in a similar way to how Bond film’s move around the globe as the plot unravels. I didn’t get this feeling during Cairo, Nest of Spies though so maybe I just felt this because I wasn’t as interested.

In the end OSS 117: Lost in Rio is a funny Eurospy parody which has a few good moments but not many great ones. I’d recommend the original to anyone who hasn’t seen it and having seen that one would definitely recommend coming back to this for some more OSS fun. I’d also be very much open to a third film too but after the success of The Artist I doubt either Hazanavicius or Dujardin will come back for more.       


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