Friday, January 16, 2015

A Pain in the Ass

L'emmerdeur; black comedy, France/ Italy, 1973; D: Edouard Molinaro, S: Lino Ventura, Jacques Brel, Caroline Cellier

Milan, a professional assassin, gets the assignment to eliminate Louis, a valuable witness who is about to testify in a crime trial at 2 PM. For that occasion, Milan hires a hotel room from which he has a clear view of the street where Louis will arrive. However, his plan are disrupted by the events in the next room, where the annoying shirt salesman Pignon tries to hang himself on the waterpipe, yet just causes them to break and flood the flat. Since Pignon is shaken by his wife cheating on him with Dr. Fuchs, Milan agrees to drive him to his wife's stable, but just gets into more and more misadventures, including having to drive a pregnant woman to a hospital and being tranquilized by Dr. Fuchs, who thought he was Pignon. Back in his room, at 2 PM, Milan spots Pignon has discovered his gun. Pignon accidentally shoots from it, wounds Milan and causes the police to arrest them both.

Excellent "A Pain in the Ass" is a grand black comedy that uses its simple premise and exploits it to the maximum, delivering a fantastic fun which is a sly blend of "Le Samourai" and "What About Bob?" Director Edouard Molinaro starts the film as a straight forward assassin crime flick, only to add it a comic dimension once the annoying shirt salesman Pignon enters the scene and causes chaos in the hotel: it is remarkable how many creative ways there are for him to disrupt the assassination attempts of Milan with his antics. The jokes arrive swiftly and are so deliciously pure, good 'old school' - and are, of course, downright hilarious considering dry humor - from the opening joke where Pignon wants to hang himself on a waterpipe, only for the pipe to break and flood the hotel rooms; through the moment where Milan does not want to call the police and thus promises to talk with Pignon and calm him, upon which the concierge tells him that he "placed a huge burden on his shoulder"; the sequence where Milan has a car crash with a car carrying a pregnant woman and thus has to drive her and Pignon to the hospital; Pignon wants to talk to his wife, who is riding on a horse, but she just replies: "You are annoying my horse"... Without any muddle or overcomplications of the narrative, without any excess, finely balancing between two extremes, this is a deliciously pure film. 8 years later B. Wilder made the less famed remake "Buddy Buddy".


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