A Self Made Hero

Director: Jacques Audiard

One of the best French films of recent years, and a deserving prize-winner at the Cannes festival last year, Jacques Audiard’s A Self Made Hero has a fascinating story which it tells with brilliant imagination and wit. Shy, wholly unremarkable Albert (played by Mathieu Kassovitz, director of La Haine) remains a timid, impoverished nobody until the end of World War Two when, through a mixture of luck, determination and downright lies, he manages to pass himself off as a Resistance hero. What makes the film so very enjoyable, besides the excellent performances, is the way this basic imposter story is transformed, by means of fragmented, dazzingly imaginative plot construction, into a witty, irreverent and, in the end, surprisingly poignant commentary on the allure of myth-making and the mysteries of the shifting phenomenon we call human identity. Though the whole thing may be seen as a gently subversive satire on France’s illusions about its own wartime record, Audiard’s directorial touch is so subtle, lively and light that the film remains deliciously entertaining throughout.

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