Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Finally an English subtitle film of Le Petit Nicholas

I missed this charming Gallic film when it came out last year at my local independent cinema and have eagerly awaited its release on DVD with English subtitles. Finally I got to watch it the other day and was so enraptured / captured by its style and wit that I have watched it three times in total.

It stars Maxime Godart, (Nicolas) Kad Merad, (the father) and Valérie Lemercier (the mother) and a host of other fabulous acting talent young and older. I particularly liked François Damiens ( the unconventional Scandinavian lover in Delicacy) in his small role as a bickering neighbour.

The film was originally released in 2009 in France and was a huge hit. Why we have to wait for these gems to eventually visit the UK I'll never know. This is a nostalgic, beautifully acted film from the original source of books by the Asterix creator, René Goscinny and set in the 1950s. I loved the set pieces and décor and I wanted to move into the street where Nicholas lives because it is sooo French.

The film is directed by Laurent Tirard (Molière and recently Astérix et Obélix - on his Majesty’s service -2012) and sees the nine year old innocent Nicholas believing that his parents are going to have a baby and his friends have caused him to believe that the older siblings get abandoned in the woods once the new child appears on the scene. When Nicholas becomes convinced his mum is truly pregnant he and his young friends hatch a plan to try and make sure the baby never appears.

The other major child actors (mostly boys and one girl) are superb and must have come from the French version of Central casting. I am not familiar with the drawn stories but these lads are great characters and very funny. They are:

Clotaire – bottom of the class but often comes up trumps

Alceste – fat and eats all the time

Eudes – very strong and likes to whack his friends on the nose

Geoffroy – very rich and his father buys him all that he wants

Agnan – teacher's pet, tiny and wears glasses – nobody likes him – but is strangely likable

Joachim – already has a little brother who he claims to hate but really loves him

Maixent – has long legs and runs very fast

Rufus – his father is a policeman and he has a police whistle that he likes to blow

Marie – Edwige – confident young girl who likes Nicholas but he is nervous of her because he's not used to girls

The parents of Nicholas (Merad and LeMercier) are brilliantly funny in this in often quite subtle ways. I've always loved the lugubrious Kad Merad since I saw him in the stunningly funny French film – Welcome to the Sticks (Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis). Danny Boon is also a favourite of mine and appears with Kad in the Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis film. I have read the reviews to this film (French with English subtitles) and they all say how brilliantly funny it is.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this blogpost I thought that the design and set pieces for the streets and interiors were magnificent and really gave a feel of a slightly opulent 1950s Urban France. If this whets your appetite then the DVD can be ordered through this link.


I thoroughly recommend it as a fun few hours for the family. The credits are a work of art in themselves! The French really do excel in funny films.


Christopher Frost said...

From the stills you've shown us, It looks like something Jacques Tati might have written and directed if he had the opportunity.

The colours look quite genuine 1950s Technicolour, as some of todays films look a bit washed out. I don't know what film stock they use. But it's not one that does anything for the film.

Phil said...

I don't know anything about the film stock but the colours are certainly vibrant and coupled with the film style and décor give the film a 1950s feel.