Alliance Française French Film Festival Review: Rock’n Roll (France, 2017) is an uneven mockumentary dripping in silliness & excess

Rock’ n Roll is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The same can also be said about the film’s star, writer and director, Guillaume Canet. The result is an uneven French comedy and a satire that examines the worst of Hollywood and show business ego, and while it deserves points for originality, the script requires some serious tightening and finessing (I imagine there’s a joke in there about wrinkles but we’ll let that one slide.)

The spotlight here is on Canet who we might remember from The Beach. When we first meet him he is a sweet and contented family man and the other half of Marion Cotillard, who appears here as herself. The pair have a son and a seemingly happy life. But this bubble is burst when Canet comes to a harsh realisation.

While working on his latest film, he is interviewed by a journalist and his beautiful co-star Camille Rowe. During this talk, Rowe has a dig at Canet and says he is boring and not very rock ‘n’ roll. She also says his sex appeal has dropped. Canet soon believes that she is right and is annoyed that he is being offered roles for middle-aged, father-type figures.

The film then becomes a mockumentary that borrows a couple of ideas from Larry David. Canet decides he wants to overhaul his safe image but he takes it to the extreme. He becomes a hard-partying ass and complete narcissist who works out to the extreme and takes steroids. And that’s not when he’s getting plumped and prodded with Botox and other plastic surgeries. The results are tremendously bad to say the least.

There are some jokes here but you get the sense that some of them are also lost in translation (there’s a recurring thing about Cotillard learning a French-Canadian accent that probably won’t be understood by anyone who isn’t from there.) At other points things are far too exaggerated for their own good. Whereas Canet was a likeable fella at the start, by the end he is virtually unrecognisable and has gone so far in the opposite direction that it is hard for the audience to really root for him.

The proceedings are also far too long and it almost feels like the majority of this is a one-track gag played ad nauseam. It is commendable that they tackle this idea of the destructive nature of Hollywood. There are plenty of actors that feel they cannot age and most people can probably relate to a mid-life crisis of sorts, but that isn’t enough to get this one over the line.

Rock’ n Roll ultimately blurs the lines between fact and fiction to send up some of the worst aspects of Hollywood. While it starts off relatively strong, it quickly descends into full-on silliness and the one-track joke of aging disgracefully gets seriously tiresome. Audiences might come for the promise of some outrageous hijinks and silly, self-deprecating humour but they certainly won’t be the ones afforded the last laugh.

Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Rock’ n Roll screens nationally as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival from February 27. For more information and tickets please visit: https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/

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