Opening 31 Jul 2008
"Everything is for sale: love, art, the planet, you, me. Especially me." Octave Parango (Jean Dujardin) takes a dive and we watch his life (amazing effects used very well throughout this film) pass by. In this satirical black comedy Octave is the epitome of what he does, a walking advertisement for success: clothes, car, flat, females and enough coke to feed a constant high.
Copywriter Octave with art director Charles 'Charlie' Dagout (Jocelyn Quivrin) is the dream team at the highly respected Paris advertising agency, Ross & Witchcraft and everyone there indulges them. Responsible for the agency’s biggest account, yogurt conglomerate Madone, account manager Jean-François 'Jeff' Marolles (Patrick Mille) placates and probes them before the new product “Starlight” presentation. When Madone’s Alfred Duler (Nicolas Marié) sees through their weak concept, a crack appears in Octave’s armor.
Feeling vulnerable Octave’s self-esteem is boosted when he successfully seduces agency intern Sophie (Vahina Giocante) although inadvertently he falls in love with her. Nonetheless Sophie’s special Valentine present only widens cracks in his protective armor, beginning a downward spiral he cannot stop. A bad "trip" initiates Octave’s grasp that he is a casualty of his own self-serving advertising system. How he retaliates is succulently apropos.
This film, true to Frédéric Beigbeder’s 2000 bestselling book about advertising, uses tricks of the trade including a "second ending following poor test screening", to emphasize the prime concern: how much stuff do people need to make them happy? Dujardin’s skilled emotional character portrayal – the highs, confusion, depression and fears, carry us through this fast paced social commentary supported by a very well chosen cast.
Jan Kounen, director/shares screenplay credits with Nicolas & Bruno, capably brings the book to the screen. Cinematographer Jean-Louise Bompoint’s all-seeing camera is aptly supported by Anny Danche’s editing, in particular the first-rate transition cuts. That, the pulsating music and those amazing effects (which encompass graphics, film clips, animations, and random collections from magazine adverts), brands this film.
39,90 screams the advertising cliché "people buy with their eyes." Visually this film engrosses and entertains the viewer, sometimes at the price of reading subtitles. As a social commentary, the film excels. And (as always), whether to see it is your choice. (Marinell Haegelin)