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Ruben’s (Nicolas Maury) candy-colored fairy-tale world comes crashing down in Mikael Buch’s LET MY PEOPLE GO!

LET MY PEOPLE GO! (Mikael Buch, 2011)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St.
Opens Friday, January 11

Mikael Buch’s Let My People Go! is a charmingly wacky, unpredictable comedy that is filled with fun cinematic references, with the first-time feature-film director openly paying tribute to his many influences with an infectious glee. Nicolas Maury stars as Ruben, a French Jew living in Finland with his lover, Teemu (Jarkko Niemi). On his route one day, Ruben attempts to deliver a package to Monsieur Tilikainen (Kari Väänänen), who refuses to accept it once he sees that it contains a whole ton of money. As he suffers a heart attack on his front lawn, he wills the cash to Ruben, who initially doesn’t want it but eventually accepts it. But when he tells Teemu what happened, the incensed Teemu throws him out for having taken the money while leaving the old man dying on the grass. With nowhere else to go, Ruben returns to his crazy family in Paris, where he learns disturbing stories about his mother (Almodóvar regular Carmen Maura) and father (longtime French actor Jean-François Stévenin), his sister (Amira Casar) is in the midst of an ugly fight with her Palestinian-supporting goy husband, and his macho brother (Clément Sibony) is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the crazy clan. Meanwhile, a distraught Ruben is offered a job in the family dry-cleaning business and gets entangled in an unfortunate sexual tug-of-war with respected lawyer and community leader Maurice Goldberg (Jean-Luc Bideau). Referencing a wide range of filmmakers including Jacques Demy, Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Douglas Sirk, Vincente Minnelli, and Pedro Almodóvar, Buch and cowriter Christophe Honoré (Ma mère, Love Songs) have a grand old time with the oddball goings-on, which often go way too over the top or are too silly for their own good, but Maury manages to keep it all together with his sad-sack faces and physical comedy, evoking both silent movies and Hollywood musicals. Céline Bozon’s cinematography and Gwendal Bescond’s production designer, particularly in the candy-colored suburban fantasy world of Finland, continues the madness. Buch, who is still in his twenties, was born in France and raised in Taiwan and Barcelona, a diverse background echoed in the many cultural clashes and varied elements depicted in Let My People Go! The film opens January 11 at the Quad, with Buch on hand to participate in Q&As following the 7:20 shows on Friday and Saturday.

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