Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro (France, 2011)

les-neiges-du-kilimandjaro-poster_360825_8361Directed by: Robert Guédiguian. I had to see this movie for professional reasons, and I definitely wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. I don’t as a rule seek out contemporary feel-good middle of the road films that look like the French equivalent of Oscar bait (César bait?), but I had to sit through it, again for professional reasons, and it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. It’s about an aging union boss, an old leftie who takes a heroic gesture by putting his own name in the hat with the other names when it comes time to randomly lay off a bunch of workers at the plant (is it metal workers? I don’t even remember), even though he was exempt from putting his name in. And—wouldn’t you know it?—he pulls his own name along with the others. What a hero! He took one for the working class. And then he and his wife get a bunch of donation money to go on a trip to Africa as a retirement present, but one of the laid off guys robs it, he’s caught, and the union boss and his wife have to deal with how hurt they are. But they learn a lot by seeing the guy’s family, his two younger brothers, a broken home, class dynamics, their own privilege, wealth, etc etc, and in the end they forgive the guy and decide to adopt his two brothers until the guy’s out of jail. So, definitely not your typical Hollywood Oscar bait fluff, so that’s cool. That being said, I’m not sure I’m super into this movie. I like the politics of the movie, and the humanitarian stuff, how this privileged, self-important liberal realizes that he’s totally become bourgeois and decadent and that, even though his name was in the hat with the rest of them, that’s not what equality looks like, because he had a family, property, savings, etc to fall back on, and the other guys didn’t. But those darn trappings again…the trappings of this movie really kill it for me. The way it’s shot is extremely boring to me, the dialogue and characterization, all of it—this is a very comfortable film, except for the robbery sequence. Most of the film involves nothing more than comfortable scenes of sitting on deck chairs, drinking cocktails, looking at the scenery. And the characterization makes me want to puke. The guy who goes to jail is about the only real person in the movie. The bits with the wife and the creepy cocktail bartender are the most vomit-inducing things I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. So I don’t know, I guess it’s a good movie and everything, but holy shit you guys. Academic purposes only.

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One response to “Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro (France, 2011)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2015 | Offhand Reviews·

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