A L’Attaque aka Charge! (2000) – movie review

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Ariane Ascaride, Pierrre Banderet, Gerard Meylan
Director: Robert Guediguian

It seems the French are the only people taking any notice of the European Time Directive. Limiting their working hours to 35 a week, people are taking up DIY home improvements, spending more time with their families and doing more sport. What fun! Perhaps they’ll go and see more films too.

A L’ATTAQUE is a tale of class struggle and sex – the only two things that a couple of middle-aged screenwriters feel like writing about in the modern world. Living in their bourgeois house, drinking endless coffees, snacking on omelettes and napping for dreamtime inspiration the two invent a film plot.

The director Robert Guediguian explains that he wanted to explore the “inside/outside” question of narrative. Do we believe what we see – do we get into it – or do we keep our distance from what is happening? Thus the film shifts backwards and forwards from the playwrights to their imaginary plot.

The setting of their imaginary creation is a decaying garage in Estaque (near Marseilles) run by an Italian family. Gigi and Jean-Do are the mechanic cousins who aren’t obeying the European time directive, and seem to be working themselves into the ground just to stay afloat. Lola and Martine, their sister and wife, do the accounts and help out in the garage and a jovial Italian papa looks after the baby. Characters are tried out and then erased by the playwrights and we are allowed to see how the plot develops in the minds of the writers.

It’s a jolly film with some nice touches – good performances by all the cast and a good insight into the creative process.

4 out of 6 stars