I Feel Good

Jacques Pora (Jean Dujardin) never met an idea he wouldn't steal nor work he wouldn't shirk, a combination which becomes problematic for his sister Monique (Yolande Moreau) when he arrives after a three year absence wearing only a white spa robe and slippers at the Emmaus homeless village which she manages. Having learned nothing from the get-rich-quick scheme which bankrupted his now deceased parents, Jacques makes connections through the various recycling workshops Monique assigns him to, then pitches them his latest scheme, a cut-rate Bulgarian cosmetic surgery package he dubs "I Feel Good."

Laura's Review: B

Cowriter/directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern combine the unique farcical talents of Dujardin with an anti-capitalist message for an experience that is both exuberantly silly and thought provoking. The real Emmaus village where the film is mostly shot is an amazing place, a colorful collection of reclaimed living spaces where used goods from clothing to electronics to furniture are fixed up and given new life by people learning new skills in the process. It is resident Manu (Jo Dahan) who tells Jacques that his sister had a breakdown after losing her parents, her job, her libido and her husband, but despite her good work ethic and charitable outlook, Jacques' head is turned by a run-in with old acquaintance Poutrain (Xavier Mathieu), a man who claims the extreme weight loss achieved at a Bulgarian clinic enabled him to start a business, marry a younger wife and set himself up in a gated home he's called I Feel Good. Jacques isn't interested in the carpentry or welding workshops his sister assigns him to, instead assembling outfits from her inventory to fit his projected persona and highlighting a used Bill Gates book from cover to cover. Soon he's got Emmaus denizens believing that a jaunt to Bulgaria and omega 3 will turn them into professional soccer players. Delépine and Kervern have packed their screenplay with so many gags, the movie is enjoyable just for its surface pleasures, but by the film's musical conclusion they have also proven the joys of a simpler way of life. Dujardin gives his trademark debonair dimwit a slight physical downgrading more appropriate for this loser character, one who will make a startling transformation by film's end. Moreau is his opposite, sweetly vague, her shuffling gait and unkempt appearance projecting a hopelessness defied by her response to her brother's efforts and the people that she cares for. Grade:

Robin's Review: B-