Le Jouet (1976)
The Original with Pierre Richard
François Perrin is a journalist who is seeking employment in a venue belonging to a certain Pierre Rambal-Cochet. He is one of the kind to notice things and not be silent about them. At some point he finds himself in a toy mega store of the rich magnate where he is preparing a feature article. There, a child, son of Pierre Rambal-Cochet, walks in, and he wants a new toy – a real person. Perrin is talked into an agreement with the store’s director, and subsequently with the very owner. With this, a new chapter opens in François’s life.
The entire plot is based on developing a theme of bonding between the two, a young boy Eric and a journalist, whose name is now Julliet.
The movie also runs a number of sub-plots, challenging grotesque and borderline social imbecility, landing it a label of a puppet show of one rich man. At some point François, now wearing a fully blown American cowboy gear and looking an absolute knock-out, looses his revolver out of a car. When he goes back to pick it up, he sees another human puppet standing in the toy store window, dressed in a Native American costume. Bitter satire transpires through the entire film. It is being reinforced by scenes and dialogues between supporting characters where a symbolic use of their movements and language makes the puppet show sub-theme more prominent.
Another sub-theme runs through the movie from the beginning to it’s very last minute, and leaves the viewer with an open question – can true journalism be bought ?
Compliments to Pierre Richard, a genius of classic comedy, for his state-of-the-art and most impressive performance in Le Jouet. When his character, having battled with the decision to leave or stay, decides that the show must go on, the movie takes an unexpected turn. François Perrin makes an attempt to bring the change into dry, impersonal and estranged from everything we call ‘normal’ social circle. He stirs trouble and is then being asked to leave.
Recognized by its unique, fitting and rememberable theme song, Le Jouet has an undeniable class that is impossible to beat. Entirely devoid of kitsch, the movie is composed of brilliant and not overdone acting with an accurate placement of details in photography, body language and a subtle play on exaggeration. Characters are driven, passionate, believable and real. The outstanding work of the entire film crew, including make up artists and costume designers, is seen in every part of this production, making it such a pleasurable event that takes you back in time to the age you might not have realized you missed that much.
In the finale, Eric who is really just a typical boy like many of his age who only wants to have someone who cares and can be his real friend, attempts a run away. He goes to recently discharged Julliet, whom he now sees as his best friend. When being returned to his father, he escapes and runs back to Perrin.
In 1982, an American comedy film The Toy was released, bearing a nearly identical plot, and while the movie was well done, nice and entertaining, there’s always only one the original.
Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.
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