Bye Bye Morons is a French comedy-drama that morphs into an unexpected romance-drama. With it’s autumn-coloured grading, cleverly linked dialogue and successful running jokes, writer and director Albert Dupontel creates a heartwarming film that touches on themes of life, death, and love.
The film follows Suze Trappet (Virginie Efira), a 45-year-old hairdresser diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that leaves her little time to live. Her longing (and now dying) wish is to meet the child she gave up for adoption when she was merely 15-years-old. As she looks for trails that could hopefully lead to her long-lost child’s documentation at the Health Department, she comes across Jean-Baptiste Cuchas (Albert Dupontel) – a middle-aged IT boffin recently demoted because of his age. Given that he has no family and has now lost his only reason to live, he attempts to commit suicide in his office which goes horribly wrong.
Both characters, Ms. Trappet and Mr. Cuchas are not important enough in their respective worlds to be treated with respect or even have their names pronounced correctly. Suze Trappet’s doctor calls her a number of incorrect variations of her name before she corrects him. Similarly, Jean-Baptiste’s manager continuously says his surname incorrectly throughout the film. This heightens the out-of-character attempted suicide of Jean-Baptiste and kidnapping done by Suze, providing the audience with humourful irony.
Desperate to find her child, Suze kidnaps Jean-Baptiste after seeing that his failed suicide attempt could easily be misunderstood as attempted homocide. Together these two family-less individuals work to help find Suze’s lost child. The simple premise is packed with both comedic and dramatic conflict that sees the pair take up Mr. Blin (Nicolas Marié), a blind archivist running away from the police. Mr. Blin’s role is that of a Disney sidekick character – his job is to provide comedic relief alongside the main characters as they go forth of their journey to reach their external goal all while burning the oil for their internal needs. It is this use of comedic irony that keeps the film at just the right temperature to meet the needs of an audience wanting to see a comedy-drama for the full 87-minutes running time.
For most of the first half of the film, the characters feel as if they lack something. Not the kind of lacking that comes with a flawed character that must learn something, but a lacking of well-rounded writing. They constantly chase their external goal without mentioning or alluding to the internal conflict that they will need to overcome to achieve their external goal. This flawlessness of both Suze and Jean-Baptiste makes their journey only interesting because we want them to achieve their goal. There are no character traits or flaws that resonate with you, making it somewhat difficult to empathise with them.
It is only at the midpoint, where Suze finds her son Adrien (Bastien Ughetto) that we see an internal change within her. No longer does she wish to meet her son but now she wishes to help her son express his love for his colleague, Clara (Marilou Aussilloux). It is this parting gift she wishes to grant her son, which makes Jean-Baptiste see himself in Adrien. Both IT specialists are so caught up in their work that they lack much confidence to express their love for someone. Jean-Baptiste experienced that when he was young, and now Adrien is experiencing it as well. It is only here that we begin to see who these characters are deep inside, opening the gates of empathy through the screen.
But even with this character revelation, there is a lack of chemistry between Suze and Jean-Baptiste who unexpectedly admit their love for each other in a very Romeo and Juliet fashion. Now that they’ve uttered the words “I like you” to each other, they feel ready to die, together. It’s very melodramatic and misfitted which leaves the audience speechless but in an awkward way.
I think I speak for many people when I say if the main characters are going to end up expressing their affection for each other, there should always be little nuggets of affection throughout the film so that it comes together organically and not just for dramatic effect. But then again who am I but an amateur writer with no produced films to my name?
AF French Film Festival 2021 – ‘Bye Bye Morons’ (Adieu les cons)
Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist – also screening at Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021), March 2, 2021. Rating: M. Running time: 87 min.
PRODUCTION: A Gaumont release. Producer: Catherine Bozorgan.
CREW: Director: Albert Dupontel. Screenplay: Albert Dupontel, Xavier Nemo, Marcia Romano. Cinematography: Alexis Kavyrchine. Editing: Christophe Pinel. Music: Christophe Julien.
CAST: Virginie Efira, Albert Dupontel, Nicolas Marié, Jackie Berroyer, Philippe Uchan, Bastien Ughetto, Marilou Aussilloux.