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The Auteurs Daily. Toronto. Micmacs

The Auteurs Daily

Micmacs

"Whether you love [Jean-Pierre] Jeunet's films for their technical virtuosity and pervasive sense of wonder," writes Karina Longworth at indieWIRE, "or hate them for their unrelenting whimsy and fetishization of fate, these seamlessly rendered, mostly live-action fairy tales have probably turned thousands of art-damaged American adolescents on to their logical precursors: Tati, Buñuel, maybe Russian animation or French silents. Anyone who has been so touched by a Jeunet film in the past will probably find it impossible to resist Micmacs, in which Jeunet applies his patented magical realism to a soft satire on weapons proliferation and contemporary cultural warfare. For Jeunet's haters, this film will be torture."

"To judge from his films, Jean-Pierre Jeunet couldn't tie his shoelaces without first devising a Rube Goldberg contraption of toothpaste, waffle makers, and jars full of bees to do so," blogs Fernando F Croce at Slant. "Jerry-rigged doodads dominate the Gallic auteur's new clockwork confection, which retains some of the anti-militarism of A Very Long Engagement while scrambling to outdo the sugary excesses of Amélie."

Jeunet's "comic instincts really do relate to the visual storytelling of Buster Keaton," argues the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt: "Wry slapstick gags and chains of fateful events lead a feckless protagonist through the bewildering mysteries of life. Never more so than in Micmacs, a comic fable about a gang of misfits that takes on the weapons industry and blows their death machines sky high."

"Disappointing not because it's horrible - which it very definitely is not - but because it's lazy," finds Todd Brown at Twitch. Micmacs "feels less like the return to classic form that he promised than it does the product of a man ticking check boxes on a list of what makes a Jeunet film. Too bad everyone somehow forgot that a compelling story is required if anyone is going to care and that a compelling story requires compelling characters."

"It's a near requisite of auteurdom to, at some point in one's career, deliver a love-letter to cinema," writes Julian Sancton for Vanity Fair. "Micmacs, for example, begins as old movies used to begin: front-loading all the credits over a stationary, black-and-white image of a cloudy sky. There is also a scene where Bazil [Dany Boon] lip-synchs an exchange from the French-dubbed version of The Big Sleep word for word. Jeunet even tips his hat to his own movies - revisiting the musical saw scene from Delicatessen, for instance - going to such surreally self-referential lengths as to put a billboard for Micmacs itself in the background of the action."

"In the spirit of [his] ingenious recyclers, Jeunet has charmingly repurposed the 65-year-old Big Sleep score along with snippets of other 40s film music, all composed by the great Max Steiner," notes Rob Nelson in Variety. "Just as delightful, if more unique, are the tools of infiltration - ropes, pulleys, bottomless suitcases, makeshift fishing poles, and other bric-a-brac - with which Jeunet and [co-screenwriter Guillaume] Laurant have outfitted the gang. The movie's zanier scenes are allowed to work so well in part because Jeunet has given them sufficient room to breathe; unlike the director's more aggressively hyperactive work, Micmacs carefully apportions its visual jokes rather than bombarding the viewer with them."

"The cast, led by a relatively non-verbal Boon, whose popularity can only continue to soar after Micmacs, is perfectly attuned to the humourous shenanigans," writes Mike Goodridge in Screen.

"Like Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen, Micmacs might seem like a diversion from bigger, more ambitious films for Jeunet, but it's a wildly entertaining one, as a standing ovation from the Toronto crowd attested," notes Stephen Saito at IFC.

Update: Nicolas Rapold for the L Magazine: "By turns loopy, droll, and cloying humor bowties each in an interminable series of missions and miniature creations that should be more diverting than they are."

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