FF2011: 'Borderline' ('Une Pure Affaire')
Coke dreams of la petite bourgeoisie
By Richard Whittaker, 9:45PM, Sun. Sep. 25, 2011
It is the dream of la petite bourgeoisie to be their own bosses. Maybe have a nice little family business they can run out of their house. And if that business is involves cocaine, well, merde.
In his debut feature outing, writer director Alexandre Coffre presents a comedy of social manners that just happens to be about coke dealers. Very nice, lower middle class coke dealers, but coke dealers all the same. It begins as a very standard French domestic drama, with hapless and clueless lawyer David (François Damiens) spending a mildly awkward evening with his family. If this was an American studio picture, then they would almost inevitably be clichéd and quirky, but instead la familie Pelames are reassuringly bland. Courtesy of Guillaume Deffontaine's cinematography, even David’s red Mini looks bleached out. Then a couple of kilos of candy drop into his lap and he sees this as the way to break the monotony.
A Breaking Bad for suburban Paris, Une Pure Affiare is a black comedy: Not pitch-black, but that odd, understated bubbly, slate gray that is the trademark of contemporary French farce. The audience has the smug satisfaction of watching the Pelames make every dumb and obvious mistake imaginable, but still finding the family affable enough to care when the other shoe - wielded with a subtle menace by Gilles Cohen as le patron - drops heavily.
Coffre’s script is light on light on gags, but heavy on the absurdism. It trades cleverly on the idea that, just through the osmosis of media exposure, the average person has learned a lot about the day-to-day mechanics of the coke industry. Damiens reduces it to office politics, while his wife (Pascale Arbillot) becomes a hard-working social climber, prepared to put in that extra effort to clamber up a couple of rungs. The two have a bumbling charm that never descends into slapstick, leaving their level-headed teen daughter Marion (Anne Duverneuil) to provide the satiric edge as their comedic foil.
Fantastic Fest presents Une Pure Affaire (Borderline) Sunday Sept. 25 at 11.55pm at Alamo South Lamar.