Let me clear about this right up front. I am not a fan of Gerard Depardieu and I never have been. I'm not sure whether it's something about his acting style or the projects he chooses but there is generally just something that keeps me away from the vast majority of his films.
But there are always exceptions. And Mammuth
looks to be one of them.
When the film appeared in Berlin this year word began trickling back to me from a number of trusted friends that this was something special. And rather unusual. And definitely my style. Though I wasn't able to catch the film at the festival I have tracked down an extended clip reel and if these bits are true to the spirit of the entire feature then hell yes, this is a Depardieu film I can get behind. Here's the synopsis:
As he turns 60, a working-class man takes his retirement. Hard at work since the age of 16, he has never missed a day, never gone sick.
When he tries to claim his well-deserved retirement pension, he runs into the implacable wall of bureaucracy. It turns out that several of his former employers have "forgotten" to declare his earnings. To receive full benefits, his only solution is to go back to them and gather the missing affadavits.
Encouraged by his wife, our hero mounts his old motorcycle from the 70s, a Mammuth which gave him his nickname. He returns to the places of his youth, a journey that brings him back into company with former employers, friends, and long-lost family members.
On the road, he comes to realize that people have always considered him an uncultivated imbecile. Submerged in doubt, haunted by ghostly appearances of Yasmine, his first love lost in a dramatic motorcycle accident, his quest to recuperate the missing papers, little by little, becomes futile.
Salvation comes to him from his young niece, who awakens the happy poet that lies dormant inside him. Instead of aging slowly towards death, Mammuth decides to embrace life with a new beginning.
Sure, that reads like it could be an inspirational movie of the week but the clips are something entirely different ... the scene where Mammuth berates a supermarket deli worker for not taking more pride in the fact that he gets to work with ham is pretty spectacular. Check it below.
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