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Let My People Go
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A sweet and hilarious fusion of gay romantic comedy, Jewish family drama and French bedroom farce, Mikael Buch s Let My People Go! follows the travails and daydreams of the lovelorn Ruben (Regular Lovers Nicolas Maury), a French-Jewish gay mailman living in fairytale Finland with his gorgeous Nordic boyfriend. But just before Passover, a series of mishaps and a lovers quarrel exile the heartbroken Ruben back to Paris and his zany family which includes Almodovar goddess Carmen Maura (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Volver) as his ditzy mom. Scripted by director Mikael Buch and renowned arthouse auteur Christophe Honoré (Love Songs), Let My People Go! both celebrates and upends Jewish and gay stereotypes with wit, gusto and style to spare. The result is deeply heartwarming, fabulously kitschy and hysterically funny.
DVD Special Features:
Gorgeous HD master, enhanced for widescreen viewing
Production design featurette
U.S. theatrical trailer
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His seemingly unselfconscious charm makes this whole movie a great joy to watch, and I can't imagine it without him at its heart - but everybody else in it and behind it is so good that I'd give it a try anyway.
Maury plays Reuben Steiner (spelled Ruben in the credits), a gay French Jew living in Finland with Teemu, his Finnish husband. His scheme to start a sauna business has failed and he's working as a mailman.
A man on his mail route gives him an envelope containing almost 200,000 euro and then appears to drop dead. Teemu gets angry at Ruben for taking the money and kicks him out, so he returns to spend Passover with his highly eccentric but very loving family in Paris.
It's a farce, much like a very modern version of a 30s screwball comedy, but all the main characters are so lovable and real that the totally unreal stuff that happens doesn't matter.
There are no bad performances (his mother is played by Almodóvar's longtime muse Carmen Maura), no villains in the story except a pig-headed in-law and a couple of snarky cops, but they're negligible. A scene near the end in which the rottweiler-like police chief reads Ruben's love letter (in English) to Teemu over the phone is priceless.
A brilliant screenplay (co-written with director Mikael Buch by the divine Christophe Honoré), mostly in French and Finnish with fairly good English subtitles; and an interesting score with songs by Devendra Banhart, Noah and the Whale and others.
I rented the movie, but I loved it so much that I've ordered a copy to watch many times over. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Once back with Teemu things go wrong when Reuben refuses to go to the cops. Teemu in a pique of conservative zeal insists he either fess up or he will throw him out. So alone on the street Reuben, who is also Jewish, heads home to Paris to celebrate The Passover with his family. Once there he is soon drowning in the needs of his family where he becomes a confessor and fall guy all rolled into one. His family have a few skeletons in a few closets and his mum is so brilliantly over bearing it comes as no surprise when he asks a Rabbi friend if he can become ‘unjewish’. The thing is he desperately misses Teemu and just wants to be happy, but will Teemu ever forgive him – and the wad of cash?
This is a finely balanced and warm comedy where everyone puts in a great performance to the extent that it looks effortless. Beautifully shot and with a good soundtrack to boot this put a smile on my face and let it stay there. Nicolas Maury (‘Paris Je t’aime’) as Reuben is so innocent and hapless to make anything he does seem completely forgivable, his mother is played by the wonderful Carmen Maura (‘Volver’ etc) who steals every scene – but in a good way. Jean-Luc Bideau as Mousier Goldberg is tremendous fun as the sexually rampant older man. This is in French with some Finnish and rather good sub titles. There really is nothing not to like (sorry double negative I think) about this wonderful film from director Mikael Buch who also helped write this and I do hope his star is in the ascendancy as this is the type of film and director that cinema is much the richer for having around.