a bit too faithful an adaptation


After a triumphant theatrical adaptation, we understand that a filmmaker succumbed to the temptation to bring to the screen Zai Zai Zai Zai, Fabcaro’s comic book, a great success in bookstores. The story is, in fact, perfectly cinematic: while he goes to the hypermarket to do his shopping, Fabrice (Jean-Paul Rouve), an actor who has proven himself in the much maligned genre of comedy (he was a comic book author in Fabcaro’s story), realizes when paying that he has forgotten his loyalty card. The cashier panics, the guard takes the situation in hand and tries to intercept the criminal, who takes advantage of a moment of inattention to flee. The country is in turmoil and, in the bars as on the television news, we only talk about Fabrice, the enemy to be killed who is on the run through the country.

Permanent script shifts

In short, the comic strip seemed to deliver a perfect turnkey popular comedy, where the absurd competes with the idiocy. It reveals in passing the madness of our paranoid, secure and sensationalized societies, exacerbated since the crisis due to Covid-19 – so much so that Fabrice could just as well have forgotten his mask. Aware of having gold in his hands, director François Desagnat adapts comics with unfailing fidelity, attempting to transpose the qualities specific to the designer’s world to the screen, by dint of scriptwriting twists, a refined staging, with stiff acting, lengthy dialogues that exhaust the absurdity of ordinary language, laden with cliches and hollow generalities.

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And the film thus wanders, feeding on a whole gallery of characters who represent the different shades of a generalized stupidity. This great fidelity to Fabcaro’s universe, however, prevents the film from finding its own cinematographic madness on its own, which would have allowed it to move away from the layer a little. The fact remains that, with a generous cast, Zai Zai Zai Zai offers popular comedy a comic sophistication and narrative richness that tears it somewhat from the usual television imaginary of the genre.

French film by François Desagnat. With Jean-Paul Rouve, Julie Depardieu, Ramzy Bedia (1 h 22).

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