Mammuth provided plenty of laughs on Tuesday night screening as part of the IFI French Film festival. Written and directed by Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine, the film tells the tale of the newly retired Mammuth (Gérard Depardieu) who sets off on a road trip on his motorcycle in search of the necessary paperwork from his previous jobs he’s had down the years in order to claim his pension. Along the way he experiences bizarre moments and encounters a strange collection of oddball characters, including a ghost from his past played by Isabelle Adjani.
Though someway losing its way toward the end, there’s no denying the enjoyment the audience shared watching the film. The humour is well observed and succeeds in marrying the painfully real with the surreal, as his post-retirement experiences erupt into moments of absurdity. There are certain scenes, such as the four men in the restaurant, which slowly build up titters in the audience but climax to a collective burst of laughter coupled with prolonged moments of absurdist humour such as bizarre reunions with family members that end up in failed nostalgia-driven attempts at shared gratification – you’ll know when you see it.
The final part in which Mammuth ‘finds’ himself is a bit overdone but by that time the writers have done enough to forgive them their trespasses. Depardieu is in fine form here, although Yolande Moreau steals the film when she’s on screen in her hilarious role as his wife whose patience is constantly tested. Her determination to take vengeance on the person who has stolen her phone is a brilliant comic sequence.
All in all Mammuth is a a wonderfully weird experience.
Tuesday also offered people a second chance to see Making Plans for Léna (Non ma fille, tu n’iras pas danser), which had previously screened on Friday, and there was also the screening of Memory Lane, Mikhaël Hers’ directorial debut which focuses on a group of childhood friends who, having gone their separate ways, all meet up in Paris and reestablish the close bond of friendship they once shared.
Click here for details of the festival’s programme of events.