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Dernier étage gauche gauche (Top Floor Left Wing)
Monday 29 November 2010, by
When they chose the poster that would advertise the film, little did the team behind Dernier étage gauche gauche imagine they would have a lawsuit on their hands. Indeed, the day of the Paris premiere of the film, the producers and director informed us pre-screening members of the audience that they were being taken to court by bailiffs for (incredibly) sullying their professional reputation and a fortiori encourage acts of violence against them. The poster features veteran French actor Hyppolite Girardot’s head poking out of a bathtub, clearly bound and gagged, terrified eyes straining to look at what is most probably his captor. The tagline reads: “Cité Villon, on sait recevoir les huissiers… » (we make bailiffs feel welcome). At the time of writing the distributor informed me that it’s been sorted and they won the case! So hooray for that.
On to the actual end product: Girardot plays diminutive bailiff François who, along with a police escort, is on the way to repossess the flat of Berber immigrant Mohand and his son Salem, residents of a unit in a massive low rent tower bloc in the Paris suburbs. They bump first into the father, who seems to cooperate and informs them that he had paid off his debts that very morning. Somehow it all goes tits up when the son gets involved along with his drugs, his dealer friend, his weapon and his insufferable arrogance tinged with a hint of sheer stupidity. As one might have guessed from the poster, in the general kerfuffle François gets taken hostage by the two residents.
From then on a series of events unfold, which become at times so absurd they are laugh out loud funny. I would like to say the film is telling of the social misery of the Parisian suburbs, of the geographical ghettoisation of low income families or the radicalisation of second generation immigrants and so on and so forth but, well it doesn’t really. Not that that matters. The film simply follows the goings on and actions of all the people involved in a random flat being repossessed. The actors deliver. The spectator gets a sense of all the above but I think it would be pretentious to read into it too much of a socio-academic issue or a political standpoint. To put it simply it’s a laugh no more no less.
Dir: Angelo Cianci, 2010