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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.04.11] France movie review comedy

Year: 2010
Director: Angelo Cianci
Writer: Angelo Cianci
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The opening twenty minutes of Angelo Cianci's debut feature Top Floor, Left Wing (Dernier étage gauche gauche) is a spectacularly amusing series of events. François, a city official whose job is to oversee evictions, arrives at the home of Salem and his father Mohand to deliver the bad news that the money they owe is due now or they're going to lose their home. Salem isn't really sure what's going on but the police presence (apparently François' job can get ugly) scares the would be drug dealer who's holding a couple of kilos of coke for a friend. He freaks out, takes François hostage and in mere minutes, the simple eviction turns into a gong show.

A swat team and negotiator are called in, the building evacuated and a media zoo gathers outside as police try to rescue François while keeping the drama to a minimum, something which becomes more difficult with each passing minute. This is a comedy of errors and though some of the comedy arises from the situation itself, most of the laughs are a little subtler. Cianci's film plays on cultural stereotyping and François and the would be rescuers all assume that Mohand and Salem must be terrorists which escalates the activities to rescue François from that of saving one man to saving the entire neighbourhood.

As the comedy of police procedures-gone-awry develops outside, inside the apartment things aren't going any better. François is sure he can save himself by playing first the father and then the son but he doesn't realise that neither Mohand or Salem know each other very well and the two are themselves fighting against each other. It makes for a couple of funny jokes and some interesting exchanges but I found the film worked best when Mohand and Salem were discovering each other in a few somewhat more dramatic moments.

Though the set-up for Top Floor, Left Wing is perfect for a few good laughs, I found the film's central focus on the cultural comedy left a lot to be desired. Though some of the jokes (including an amusing exchange about the nationality of the negotiator) are universal, I didn't understand some of the comedy which, I assume, would be amusing to someone more familiar with French culture. I found myself lost in many of the jokes until the halfway mark when I just gave up trying to understand them. That separation from the film's central thrust made it difficult for me to stay with the story and I found myself largely uninterested in what was going on. I did love a few of the moments between Salem and his father as the two get to know each other under these trying circumstances but there wasn't enough drama or situational comedy to keep me in the story.

Top Floor, Left Wing isn't without laughs and there are some truly hilarious moments, including the film's final scene, but most of my laughs come from the comedy of errors. So much of the film is specific to French culture that it feels like too much of an inside joke to gain traction with wider audiences.

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