Le Grand Partage – Alexandra  Leclère

Unknown-1Combining social drama with comedy requires a lightness of touch missing from Leclère’s dismal Le Grand Partage. This despite the best efforts of Karin Viard whose presence in any film is usually enough to lift it out of the ordinary ( Lulu Femme Nue, 21 nuits avec Pattie, On a failli etre amis). There is comic potential in the story of the bourgeois residents of an apartment building being forced to shelter homeless people during a particularly harsh winter. But Leclère has fallen back on clichès and stereotypes and skirts dangerously close to bad taste in several scenes.

During a fierce winter in the capital, the government issues a decree obliging French citizens to take in a homeless person until the weather changes. Horrified by the idea of having to share their living space with these people, several families in the same apartment building in one of the capital’s swankiest arrondissements are ready to take extreme measures to prevent the unthinkable.
There’s racial stereotyping of the most blatant kind. The African family moves in en masse with extended family members in tow and it’s not long before there’s a carnival atmosphere with lots of food, singing and dancing. On a more sinister level, the eastern European male turns out to be thief running off with anything he can put his hands on.  And Josiane Balasko’s concierge, who organises a network of exchanges between the residents so they can swap undesirable homeless people for someone more suitable, is 100% creepy and devoid of any humour whatsoever. Last year’s bumper box-office success, Qu’est ce qu’on a fail au Bon Dieu, also played fast and loose with issues of race. It failed to find distibutors in Britian or the US due to its controversial content. It will be interesting to see whether Leclère’s film rubs up against similar Anglo-Saxon political correctness.

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