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Nobody's Hero
(Viens je t’emmène)

Directed by Alain Guiraudie.
With Jean-Charles Clichet, Noémie Lvovsky, Ilies Kadri.
France, 2022, DCP, color, 100 min.
French with English subtitles.
DCP source: Strand Releasing

The latest feature by French filmmaker and author Alain Guiraudie (b. 1964) is a wickedly insightful political comedy that has drawn controversy since its Berlinale premiere by playfully cutting close to the bone of a profoundly urgent topic: the Islamophobic paranoia ascendant in recent years in France and much of the Western world. Like all of Guiraudie’s films, Nobody’s Hero takes place far from the Parisian settings traditionally dominant in French cinema—in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand to be exact—and in a parallel world where queer desire is the quotidian norm. As in Guiraudie’s previous works, such as The King of Escape (2009) and Staying Vertical (2016), Nobody’s Hero features a comically improbable anti-hero: here, an awkward, beleaguered, yet highly opinionated computer programmer whose rigidly ordered life descends into chaos when he becomes entangled in a web of errant desire between a sex worker with whom he spontaneously falls madly in love, her jealous husband, and a young Arab drifter who decamps in his building (and eventually his apartment) shortly after a bombing unsettles the community. Added to the deliriously overcrowded equation are a comely coworker with outspoken amorous intent and a lively hive of neighbors whose whispered suspicions about his relationship with the young man unleash repressed and absurdly limited, but all-too-familiar idées fixes about culture, immigration and nation. A source of the film’s rich, ribald comedy and texture is the presence of Noémie Lvovsky, an accomplished actress and director of arch comedies woefully little-known outside of France, in the role of the self-assured yet fickle sex worker who acts as the fulcrum of the film’s ever-shifting dynamic of desire. – Haden Guest

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