Le Grand Soir
Two middle-aged misfit brothers show a finger to the System in this exuberant, punk-themed comedy from French anarcho-jokers Delépine and Kervern.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Screenwriter Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern
- Producer Jean-Pierre Guerin, Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern, André Logie, Gaëtan David
- With Benoît Poelvoorde, Albert Dupontel, Brigitte Fontaine
- France-Belgium 2012
- 92 mins
- Sales Funny Balloons
Anarcho-jesters Delépine and Kervern (Aaltra; Mammuth) return with a comedy that proves you’re never too old to be a punk, however ratty your balding Mohican. ‘Not’ (Poelvoorde) is the oldest rebel in town, hanging out at the local shopping mall with faithful dog-on-a-string ‘8-6’. Meanwhile, his conformist brother (Dupontel) is starting to unravel in his job as a furniture salesman. It’s time for Not to introduce him to the joys of the moshpit and showing a finger to the system. Set largely around a shopping precinct, Le Grand Soir uses vividly coloured photography to invoke an absurd world that’s ripe for subversion. Poelvoorde, laidback and shambling, and the explosive, Cleese-like Dupontel make a sublimely ragged double act. The sight gags come thick and fast, and among the (sometimes unexpected) supporting cast, legendary chanteuse Brigitte Fontaine contributes a formidably oddball appearance as the brothers’ eccentric maman.
BD: With us, everything is decided at the last moment. With our five films, we’ve managed to skirt around the system which is tied to the weight of the networks. We’re lucky too. We hand in our work at the last minute because we know we have Depardieu – it’s now or never! Poelvoorde and Dupontel are ready and willing! So the screenplay is never finished. It’s a Rubik’s Cube that’s missing a few pieces, but we carry on. We can do that because the films aren’t expensive. [...] We speak about the evolution of French film, but there is also the spectator who wants to be surprised, more and more. I think the big machines – like those comedies where there is a character and its contrary, are heavy marketing. There is more an attraction and curiosity for the abnormal, and that’s less frightening. Take a look at last year’s successes – The Artist is a real risk; Polisse, as well, and also even Untouchable. When we released Aaltra, everybody said that a film with handicapped people who couldn’t walk would never work... I think people are fed up with pre-fabricated subjects and the expected, predictable ways of filming.
GK: For example, and as per usual, our screenplay went through several stages.
BD: We started on a film in which a small-town journalist played by Dupontel loses it and decides to conduct a counter-investigation on 9/11. We decided that played too much into the conspiracy-theory genre and Taxi Driver (laughter). So we went off on another tangent.
GK: On Greek mythology in Montpellier with a modern Diogenes, the punk with a dog – on someone who drops everything to go live in a kind of barrel.
BD: And we found it! A kind of cement pipe or conduit where the guy goes to live. It went rather far down and ended up in China (laughter).
GK: We started writing scenes in which there were already two brothers and parents. The latter lived in an apartment in the middle of town, but it was difficult to film so many interior scenes. Everything changed when we got the idea to shoot in an exterior commercial mall zone.
BD: In the word ‘cinematographer’ there is the graphic side of the word and that has always been fundamental in our films. In Aaltra, you see long straight lines, highways, cinemascope. In Avida there is a play between painting and the zoo. In Louise-Michel, it was the contrast between the factory and the island of Jersey. Mammuth, it was a road movie. When you think of this place with its shopping mall, the images give rise to the story – it was like a modern western.
GK: We didn’t want to go back on the road. This is a road movie, but it’s circular, all talking place on the interior of this zone.
BD: We work in a very particular manner. We have a small crew and we can allow ourselves to change or delete scenes at the last moment. A film is like a living being, evolving as time goes by. Gustave and I trust each other. So we are able to rewrite a scene in the morning and propose it to the actors. That’s where the pleasure of a shoot comes in – at each second we are focused on the story.
GK: We never stop improving the screenplay. Because we usually shoot in chronological order, we can ratify some scenes and eliminate others that are useless. In the end, the film is often better than the original screenplay and that’s what the actors think too. [...] The fact that Benoît had his own dog took a thorn out of our paw!
BD: He’s a real punk. He bit the whole crew, everybody has their mark, and our first assistant ended up in the hospital! When you see him eat the balloons or lick his master’s puke, it was his idea. He’s the opposite of the mutt in The Artist (laughter).
BD: Our point of departure – a modern Diogenes – was naturally a punk-with-a-dog, someone who manages to be free and autonomous. Punk was not only the music but a rejection of consumer society without the chic cool bourgeois side. It was sometimes violent but it was also refusing to be a part of society that was heading toward catastrophe.
GK: We’ve been around punks-with-dogs for a long time. They usually accost us in the street during our show Groland. We have a good clientèle even if they are not, unfortunately, often seen in movie theatres (laughter)...
Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern
Stand-up and sketch comedians on TV, Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern came together on the programme Grolandsat, and have remained united as writers, directors and actors since they entered the feature film arena with their LFF-screened Aaltra. Benoît Delépine was born in France in 1958; he has also acted as editor of Création magazine and has written comic books such as L’Imposteur (2000), La Bombe (2002) and God Killer (2003). Gustave Kervern was born in France in 1962 and has also written a number of books including 50 propositions pour sauver votre pouvoir d’achat (2008). In 2010 he also co-directed the short Ya Basta! with Sébastien Rost.
2001 Don Quixote and the Revolution [s]
2010 Comme un chien [Benoît Delépine only] [s]; Mammuth
2012 Le Grand Soir