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Je t'aime John Wayne (2000)

Original Title : Je t'aime John Wayne
Director : Toby MacDonald
Writer : Luke Ponte
Genre : Short
Country : UK
Language : English - French
Producer : Luke Morris
Music : Matt Jenkins
Photography : Nicholas D. Knowland
IMDB ID : 0277050
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poster for "Je t'aime John Wayne" by Toby MacDonald (2000)
Je t'aime John Wayne (2000) - Toby MacDonald
 

Starring

Kris Marshall Belmondo
Camilla Rutherford Zazie
Laura Lumley Minne
Mark Rex Tim
Martin Savage Horbury
Charlie Forbes Philosopher
Chris Elston Old Crazy
Natasha Elms Girl on Steps
Christiaan Haig Kissing Man
Anita Rai Kissing Woman
Laura Dewe Matthews Pretty Girl
Julia Foster Mother
Jack David Rascal
Ben Harrow Rascal
Rory Adamson Rascal
Robert Kriwazcek Rascal
Emily Jenkins Kiss Crow
Roz Kidd Kiss Crow
Seb Lee Kiss Crow
Leonie Wheatley Kiss Crow
Brian O'Farrell Kiss Crow
 

Plot

Belmonde lives in 1990's London as an iconic , cool Frenchman modelled on the new wave cinema of the 1960's. Really he is English and middle class - a fact that his family won't let him forget!
 

Comments

The funniest film you'll see all year - a rare treat for old cinephiles. This short is a cineaste's delight, a parody so lovingly detailed it becomes a celebration.'Je t'aime John Wayne' is a reworking of Godard's classic 'A bout de souffle'.In that film, Jean-paul Belmondo played a petty hood who modelled himself on Humphrey Bogart.In this, Kris Marshall is Belmondo, aka Tristan, a middle class English boy in love with all things French - he speaks ponderous French all the time, dresses sharply, philosophises, epigramises (sic?), poses. The director of this film, Toby MacDonald, however, succeeds where Godard 'failed'.In 'Souffle', we were intended to notice the disparity between Belmondo's Frenchness, posturing and insignificance, and Bogart's mythic cool.Unfortunately, Belmondo is so charismatic and cool and funny, filmed in energetic, sunny monochrome against a delicious jazz backing, that he himself, unwittingly, became a figure of mythic cool.Tristan is not the first person to be dazzled by Belmondo's persona - sure, I've done it myself, snarling 'Te es vraiment deguelasse' at my mirror.France, to foreign eyes, especially in the 50s and 60s, is so romantically cool.So Godard fails. England, however, is not very cool, especially when it tries to ape European sophistication.So although MacDonald expertly mimics Godard's enthusiastic jump-cut style and breezy music, Tristan is less successful.Every attempt at cool is hampered by bathos.The name 'Tristan', for a start, is public-school naff, and his brilliant answering machine message (with the Duke threatening any caller) is spoiled somewhat by his mother's middle class concern.A rendezvous we assume to be a romantic account with an unobtainable blonde turns out to be his loud little sister, who brings a little friend (he punishes them by bringing them to an excruciatingly pretentious art movie).A long exercise in posed cool turns out to be an uncool wait for a very uncool bus.Et cetera. This is all very amusing, but could seem like rather a petty object of satire - middle-class pseuds trying to be French.The film transcends this pettiness in two ways.Firstly, although Tristan is ridiculous, he is never a contemptible figure of ridicule.this is where the Englishness comes in - the disparity between Tristan's dreams and reality becomes poignant. Ultimately, the film affirms these dreams, the power they give Tristan to transcend his banal reality, even if he is so lost in them, he has no more purchase on any kind of reality.This is helped by the pastiche stylings being rooted in a very real, documentary London. Even more than this, the film's fun conceals a melancholy elegy for European cinema and its decline.Godard may have made a film about a slavish imitator, but his film, despite its borrowings, was something radically new, which contained the possibility for revolutionising the cinema.Twenty years later, however, it was as if it hadn't been made, cinema settling into the rut of offensive banality it's been happy to be stuck in since. Unlike Godard, MacDonald is as much of an imitator as his hero - we no longer believe in the possibility of anything new in cinema: it's sad, but significant, that one of the most inventive films around at the moment should be a pastiche of past glories.