Francis Veber’s Comedy Classic Les Compéres comes to Blu-Ray with a 2K Restoration, from Kino Lorber.
I said it in my La Chévre review and I’ll say it here. Someone really needs to write a book, hell it may end up being me, called Lost in Translation: The Films of Francis Veber and their Americanalbalized Remakes. I know you like the clever title, especially the “Americanalbalized” wordplay. Though it is a salient point to make that many of Veber’s biggest works were translated into American films that lost a lot because of the core design and construction. Literally, what made them so special was “lost in translation”. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule but not in this case’s “Americanalbalized” counterpart*.
Les Compéres is another comedy mystery by way of a buddy film. A spiritual cousin to La Chévre which has Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard playing a hard-charging Journalist and suicidal Teacher looking for a former lover’s (Anny Duperey) son who she both tells is the father. The plot and subplots – political corruption, youth bike gang terrorizing a seaside town, young love – are all secondary to the critique that Veber softly makes at men’s egos, men’s parenting styles, and friendship.
Again, as in La Chévre, Depardieu and Richard are a winning pair of the duped would-be fathers of the film. The back and forth of the comedy is even more assured than the prior entry with both quickly finding footing and chemistry. Veber ensures with his script there’s a wealth of moments for both to shine with their specific type of comedy and dramatic work. The way that the trio work giving each the space to occupy and help one another is really remarkable upon second viewing.
Watch how much control there is during any of the youth bike gang scenes which could have come off without an ounce of danger (see the “Americanalbalized” version, Father’s Day, to see how to do this wrong). Or the story that Gepardieu’s character is chasing, it has real heft and consequences. Veber understands that without the drama and stakes everything is just fluff or immaterial.
The film ends with a moment of beauty and growth between the two would-be fathers and their “son”. Veber knows when and why to end his films and Les Compéres is a perfect example. Not ruined by a need to spell-everything-out-lowest-common-denominator ending but a moment of grace and heart. Les Compéres once again proves one must always side with the original at least with the filmography of Francis Veber.
* I am not prone to do this anymore (yes, I used to do a lot of appendices and sub notes, thinking I was some sort of David Foster Wallace clone) but this does need explaining. The one instance is Birdcage / La Cage Aux Foles – which Veber wrote. Though when you have Mike Nichols and Elaine May as your creatives with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane at the height of their powers… it’s hard to argue that both and maybe Birdcage works more than the original. If only we got the sequel with Williams and Lane on the run from the Mob. If only…
We have another stunner of a 2K Restoration by Gaumont! provided to Kino Lorber. The image is healthy and verbose with a wonderful patina of film grain that gives the transfer the look of a freshly printed 35mm print.
They include the following;
- NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson
- Theatrical Trailer
The all-new Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger, and Nathaniel Thompson opens with where Veber was in his career, being the third film he directed, and comments that this is a “sequel” to their commentary to La Chévre. Some of the details include how big of a hit the film was in France and Europe – eventually being successful in the US; how this is the second part of a Veber trilogy (La Chévre, Les Compéres and Les Fugitifs) and all three were remake into American films; a discussion of the Ivan Reitman’s Father’s Day – which by all three is a terrible movie let alone a remake; a discussion of Martin Short in two of the three remakes; a discussion of Three Fugitives – and Veber’s work; a great discussion about how dark the film is and how truly lunatic the characters actions are – which work as a comedy; a discussion of the early life of Depardieu – and the troubled crime filled life he had; a discussion of Richard’s early life – and how different it was from Depardieu’s; a discussion of the darker elements of the film – suicide, lies, violence – and turning it into comedy in Veber’s hands; Veber’s work as a screenwriter – Veber’s thoughts on those films without him being a director; Veber’s work as a writer/director – Veber’s thoughts on those films and his current work; the work of composer Vladimir Cosma – and a discussion about the change in his work because of La Boum and Diva; we way the film deals with the son – and a discussion of the “youth gang”; a great comp to Don Sigel if he wanted to make a heartwarming comedy post-Dirty Harry; a discussion of how Veber refined the work from La Chévre and how he improved upon certain connective pieces as it relates to setup/plot/themes; and much more. The duo delivers another commentary track for Les Compéres and is a perfect companion piece to the track for La Chévre.
Rounding out the special features are trailers for Les Compères (2:02), La Chévre (2:22), A Pain in the Ass [L’emmerdeur] (1:44)
The Final Thought
Kino Lorber has done right by Les Compéres giving it great picture, sound, and special features. Recommended!!!