David Charhon’s disappointing comedy Les Naufragés is a waste of the talents of two gifted French actors – Daniel Auteuil and Laurent Stocker of the Comédie Française. Perhaps Charhon hoped to recreate the chemistry between the two leads that was behind the success of his last film De l’Autré Côté du Périph starring the ever-watchable Omar Sy and Laurent Lafitte also of the Comédie Française. But there’s more missing than just a spark between Auteuil and Stocker. This lazy comedy never has the courage of its convictions. It swings back and forth between the comic potential in two-men from different backgrounds stranded together on a desert island and a long-winded section which concentrates on Stocker’s bufoonish character William. When the two are together the humour is predictable and uninspired, when apart, the gags fall wide of the mark. Compared by some to Francis Veber’s comedy classic Le Dîner de Cons, Charhon’s film contains the same farcical elements, but none of Veber’s wit and intelligence.
Jean-Louis Brochard (Auteuil) has embezzeled billions of euros from his clients and is on the run from the French authorities when he meets William Boulanger, a dry-cleaner who has just been dumped by his fiancé. Together they end up stranded on a desert island with no food, water or shelter. Unable to agree on a rescue plan, they each come up with their own plan for leaving the island in the hope they will never set eyes on each other again. But the island isn’t as uninhabited as they think and the two men come to rely on each other in more ways than one.
Les Naufragés is Auteuil’s third comedy in less than 12 months and the least satisfying. Olivier Baroux’s crowd pleasing comedy Entre Amis
was a box-office success with almost double the number of admissions of Richard Berry’s Nos Femmes
. Both films displayed Auteuil’s impeccable comic timing which seems to be almost entirely absent from Charhon’s film. Is this down to the weak script and disjointed storyline? Maybe, but it falls to Stocker to inject most of the energy and life into the film. Stocker took home a Best Newcomer César in 2008 for Claude Berri’s Ensemble c’est tout
with Guillaume Canet and Audrey Tatou, But he also stood out in Anne Giaferri’s lacklustre romantic comedy Ange et Gabrielle
and lit up the screen in Jérôme Cornuau’s underated Chic!
. Both actors deserve a better showcase for their undoubted comic abilities.