Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
Inspired absurdists and cheerleaders of underclass rancour, Delépine and Kervern follow last year’s savoury Louise-Michel with the sweet, hilarious grotesquerie of Mammuth. Laid off from the slaughterhouse at 60, Serge Pilardos (Gérard Depardieu) discovers that to pick up his pension he needs to furnish evidence that he’s been paying taxes. Wife Catherine (Yolande Moreau) bids him to mount his 70s Mammuth motorcycle, hit the road and track down the myriad former employers who never had the big sucker on their books in the first place.
The stupendously elephantine, long-haired Depardieu never milks the pathos: there’s a guileless gravity about his deep stupidity that’s insanely touching. (When the filmmakers contend that Serge actually possesses the soul of a poet, it’s not such a stretch as it may sound.) The wonderful Moreau complements Depardieu wickedly well as his baleful better half and sharp-eyed champion. There’s a raucous cast of ratbags and nutcases along the road – and it’s anyone’s guess why Depardieu’s contemporary, the famously face-lifted Isabelle Adjani, allowed Delépine and Kervern to cast her as the eternally 20-year-old ghost of his lost love. Most bizarre. — BG
“There are many outrageous moments in Mammuth – from Serge’s naked romp with his decrepit cousin (Albert Delpy), to his hapless attempts to fit a shopping cart between two parked cars, to his obscene verbal sparring with the man behind the meat counter at the supermarket. Moreau in particular puts her comic skills to good use here, generating the biggest laughs as the wife whose patience with the working life has worn thin.” — Mike Goodridge, Screendaily