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À l’Attaque!

Another conte de l’Estaque from that region’s favourite son Robert Guediguian, this sunnily anarchic protest comedy (the title loosely translates as March On!) manages to combine anything-goes-whimsy with a steely political irreverenceoit’s a daffy but immensely enjoyable concoction that almost dares you to take it seriously. Guediguian’s concern is with how ordinary people can maintain their autonomy, dignity and spirit in the face of the modern world’s arbitrary, overwhelming acts of mammonismoboth in life and in cinema. Thus the film not only spins a yarn about an extended family of garage mechanics caught between an overdue bank loan and a runaway contractor’s bad debt, but regularly pulls back a creative level to poke fun at the story’s alternating Screenwriters (played by actors, but clearly in lieu of Guediguian and his regular co-writer, Jean-Louis Milesi)oone’s intent on writing an uplifting realist fable true to the lives it represents, the other a sucker for the narrative temptations of blow-jobs and firearms.
It’s as offhand and knockabout an enquiry as you could imagine, with an engaging faith in the power of solidarity and bold gestures. Guediguian has said the film preaches by example and proffers a radically optimistic ending that insists on the need to make one’s own dreams. If the main drama fingers (with the broadest of strokes) capitalist
globalisation as a process of divide, deprive and rule, the film’s explicit interrogation of art and entertainment values suggests (indeed manifests) the invigorating idiosyncrasy of home-grown folk and fare. Kudos to the regular Guediguian stock companyoAriane Ascaride, Gerard Meylan, Jean-Pierre Darroussin et al; it’s a pleasure to spend time with them.
France, 2000. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 90 min.

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