CRITICAL / FILM OPINION – After “Coexist”, Fabrice Éboué presents a smaller comedy, the story of a couple of butcher-killers. Rather than tackling the subject of veganism for free, it uses it as a formidable engine of dark humor and suspense, to make an excellent film.
Fabrice Éboué, cow humor
After Starting point, The Botswanga Crocodile and Coexist, the comedian, actor and director Fabrice Éboué returns to the cinema with a surprising proposal, but the surprise of which is not what we think. Indeed, historical supplier of vitriolic humor where all causes and minorities take for their rank, Fabrice Éboué is not really surprising by attacking the subject of veganism. Activism for a diet free of all matter and animal origin, this is also a source of social and cultural tensions, a source to which the director of Coexist drew his idea for Barbaque.
It is not surprising that Fabrice Éboué thus offers a “butcher’s shop” in which the vegan activist is joyfully and in good spirits, before serving him under the absurd name of “Iranian pork”. What is however a surprise, and a beautiful one, is the fact that Barbaque be a real cinema film, without concern for the popular performance often provided by the sympathetic schoolboy style, a genre film that has fun with the codes of romantic comedy, the detective genre and that of horror, all brilliantly.
Vincent and Sophie Pascal, couple of killers
Filmed soberly, with a delicious false rhythm, Barbaque tells the story of Vincent and Sophie Pascal, couple in crisis butchers in crisis. A monotonous and gloomy daily life, penniless and tasteless, until the action of vegan activists who come to degrade their small butcher’s shop in Melun. A mishap that could have ended there, but fate will get involved when they accidentally overthrow and kill one of the militants. And that this one, by a “happy” negligence, finds itself in the ham slicer and on the butcher’s stalls …
This story is told by Christophe Hondelatte, in his famous style of Let the accused enter. We are still in a comedy, but in a subtle way Fabrice Éboué paints a France ignored to the point of being fascinating, far from the metropolises, the one we only see in the news. With his relationship problems and the declining butchery, between the uninhibited racism of some and the passive-aggressive activism of others, the surroundings both anonymous and familiar to Melun, it is as if Fabrice Éboué was detached from everything that ‘he had filmed before and wanted realistic, to recreate in an absurd comedy and with authenticity a perfect reality.
And it is in this framework, as authentic as possible, that light sequences of murders, cruel and daring dialogues flow together. Fabrice Éboué has never been so fine in his approach, and this allows him a crazy daring, the consequences of which we cheerfully accept.
Perfect casting on a writing with a thousand flavors
Vincent and Sophie Pascal, named in double first names dear to the mythology of serial killers, like Émile Louis or Guy Georges, will have fun with the incredible taste of “vegan” human meat. With the taste of blood, passion returns to their couple, Sophie’s renewed attraction to Vincent. With the turnover going up, they no longer suffer the condescension of their odious best friends, upstart industrial butchers, beaufs, racists and vulgar (perfect Jean-François Cayrey and Virginie Hocq). The mayonnaise takes, and the spectator is amused and jubilant to see the couple pursue and kill like in the best slasher movies.
We find the rainwear and the kitchen knife, classic accessories of the cinema killer. We also find the clumsiness peculiar to anti-heroes, an element always tasted of good comedy, a sidekick whose perversity is matched only by its great sensuality (formidable Marina Foïs), and increasingly absurd situations without artifice. Simple, of an ideal duration, focused on his narrative alone – French comedy often gets lost in the trap of a sketch film with an incoherent narrative -, Barbaque grows with humility to better explode its protrusions and moments of bravery.
False mockery, real comedy
One could fear a mocking and one-sided charge on the part of the author towards a cause whose radicalism annoys him more than the message. One of these causes at the positions sometimes absolutists that Fabrice Éboué hates and loves to make fun of. But it is not. By wearing his critical humor in a real cinema film, he first convinced Marina Foïs to …