Jits French comedy-drama progresses along predictable, sentimental and somewhat implausible lines for the most part, improves with a sudden flash of realism, but then becomes horribly muddy in the home stretch with a contrived and manipulative denouement. Apparently it’s based on real events that happened in Sweden in the mid-1980s, but the final product still reeks of the doctoring script designed to shape the story into the kind of sandpaper that appeals to fans of obvious social commentary. . movie theater.
Protagonist and de facto white savior Étienne Carboni (Kad Merad) is a curmudgeonly actor, usually of the comedic variety, who takes a job teaching acting to male inmates in a high-security prison. Of course, at first the ragtag crew of prisoners who show up to class just want to blunder or learn more about stand-up comedy. However, Étienne sees promise in it and decides to put on a performance of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Tough but fair sitter Ariane (Marina Hands) thinks it’s a big question and they’ll never learn the lines, but of course they do and the show goes on. As the title in English happily announces in advance, it’s a success! But that only gets us halfway through the runtime, so things get a little more interesting as the prisoners and Etienne take the show on the road to various regional theaters.
Writer-director Emmanuel Courcol, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a freer touch with the character of Étienne but his fictional prisoners are all locked up in stereotypical cells. Nonetheless, the cast is actually quite good at stepping outside of those boundaries and bringing shade to their roles and they’re entirely plausible as amateurs doing good, but mostly not. this good, Godot runtime job. Wabinlé Nabié (from Courcol’s previous film Ceasefire) and Sofian Khammes particularly shine as two convicts playing the main roles in the film’s play, as does the handsome Pierre Lottin as Jordan who plays the difficult role of Lucky. The late Beckett may have been amused by the actual events that inspired this work, but one wonders how delighted he would have been with this filmed rendition.