Who would have thought the world of stand-up comedy in France is such a cut-throat business? But Lussi-Modeste’s second full-length feature portrays a milieu where making people laugh is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Tahar Rahim is a successful stand-up comedian whose career is on the rise. His brother and manager Mourad (Roschdy Zem ) and girlfriend Linda (Maiwenn) are locked in a battle over Brahim’s future. Mourad wants his brother to continue performing the same material that has reaped rich rewards for Brahim and his family. Linda sees a bigger, brighter future for Brahim performing new material in larger venues. But the real subject of Lussi-Modeste’s film is family and it’s complications and jealousies.
The director demonstrates beautifully Brahim’s dilemma when faced with reconciling his career with the demands of his ever-present North African extended family and his French girlfriend. He shows how difficult it is to come from a community which considers it a betrayal when one of it’s members decides to follow an individual path outside the family. But aside from Brahmin, the other main characters are sketchily drawn and unconvincing. And despite a promising start, Le Prix du Succès soon loses credibility as it works its way slowly towards a contrived, faintly ridiculous, denouement.
Brahmin has reached a point in his career where he wants to spread his wings and experiment with new material away from the protective reach of his manager/brother. Mourad has also benefitted from his brother’s success and is not about to let go easily when Brahmin, encouraged by Linda, decides to ditch him in favour of a new, more ambitious, manager . Away from the stage, Brahim is struggling to distance himself from his family who are intent on interfering with both his professional and private life.
Rahim, (Un Prophète, Samba), Zem and Maiwenn (Polisse, Love is a Perfect Crime) are a formidable trio of actors well worth the price of a cinema ticket but otherwise Le Prix du Succès is too cliché-ridden and predictable to leave a lasting impression.