Sign in using your account with
Big Fan: The Dark Side of Frantic Obsession
What is it about comedians giving stellar performances? Is it because it goes against our expectations, or maybe because no one understands the strains of life better than the ones who get the joke?
Paul (Oswalt) is the biggest fan of the New York Giants. Between an imminent midlife crisis and a dead-end security job, the Giants’ fandom is Paul’s only excuse for a calling. His family endlessly nags him about his lack of ambition. His mother, who still puts a roof over his head, is annoyed about his daily calls to his favourite radio sports show, and both his siblings beg him to procure a better job. However, none of them can get through to him, because none of them understand how comforting and consuming an obsession can be; it’s the drug of choice for the marginalized.
The film’s director, Robert Siegel also penned the script to 2008’s Wrestler, where Mickey Rourke sacrifices himself for the sake of his legacy. In Big Fan, Paul’s devotion endures a test of purity when the Giants’ star player physically violates him, and subsequently, a chain of events leads to the team falling behind in the season. Again, the main character has to choose between himself and his identity; a dilemma that forces him to confront what he has been escaping from all his life. Big Fan doesn’t hold back on showing us the ugly truth.
Fandom imbues its comrades with a sense of self-importance, and at first, Big Fan makes light of the sentiment. By midpoint, the film shifts gear from observing Paul and his vapid passion to sharing the world from his perspective. Paul is served right by Oswalt’s comic talents. A huge comic book geek himself, the actor is no stranger to the subject of fan obsession. And while it may be true that he’s playing a self-aggrandised version of himself; that doesn’t make any less impressive the talent and stamina that he brings to the film.
Siegel’s directing debut finds him without a clear voice. More of a passion project, Big Fan proves how big of a role Darren Aronofsky played in turning the wrestler into a twenty-first century Christ figure. Despite the lack of a strong vision, Big Fan still manages to capture truth in a challenging way.
She wakes up from her coma to a husband who she doesn’t remember and parents who are overjoyed that she’s forgotten about their dispute. While Paige’s parents try to bring her back to the way of life that she’d rebelled against, Leo tries to help her remember why she’d left all that behind in the first place. Fighting for a wife who doesn’t remember him and is a completely different person than the one he knew, Leo tries to get her to fall in love with him again.
The film rarely gets unbearably cheesy, setting it apart from your run of the mill Sparks adaptation. It gets mushy, emotional and sappy, but it’s more likely to make you smile than roll your eyes. Leo’s pain and heartbreak combined with Paige’s family’s delight at having their daughter back, gives the film a level of grit that keeps it from becoming overly cloying. However, the secret of the film’s success is the leads, who have great chemistry and manage to pass off some of the cheesiness as bearable.
There's no denying the fact that French cinema – whether you're a fan or not – has played a big part in shaping filmmaking around the world, and as one of the most successful film industries in Europe, one is always excited to see what the 'birth place of cinema' has to offer.
For that reason, it's no surprise that The Intouchables is nothing short of inspirational.
Based on a true story, The Intouchables focuses on Philippe (Cluzet); a cultured, wealthy, reserved man who has been left quadriplegic after an unfortunate paragliding incident, and is now looking to hire a new carer to tend to his everyday needs.
After sifting through a long-list of applicants and suffering through several dreary interviews, Philippe soon comes across Driss (Sy); a boisterous immigrant from Senegal hailing from the Parisian housing projects. Phillipe quickly learns that Driss is not really interested in the position at all; he is there to get his paperwork signed so he can continue to mooch of the governmental welfare benefits for the unemployed.
Intrigued by the young man's carefree attitude and brutal honesty, Philippe hires Driss as his aide – mainly due to Driss' lack of pity for his employer's physical challenges – and soon after, the unlikely partnership develops into something so much more than either of them could have anticipated.
It’s very hard to find something not to like in this extremely light-hearted, yet deeply reflective, story of the most oddball of match-ups. We've seen this story told tens of times before, in various forms, but none have held such sincerity, honesty and genuine warmth.
The question of racial discrimination, as many have already suggested, at no point falls into clichéd territories and it doesn’t explicitly hinge on a rich, old, white guy versus poor, black guy; The Untouchables is real, funny, down-to-earth, and puts humanity before anything else. Its main focus is on the dynamics between its two leads; one is rich and the other poor; one prefers Schubert and Bach and the other would rather hit the dance floor and boogie to the 70's funk tunes of 'Earth, Wind & Fire'. Their differences are vast, however, it's those disparities that bring them closer together.
No matter how good the story, cinematography and the soundtrack – an eclectic combo of Nina Simone's classic 'Feeling Good', soul-funk tunes from the Kool and the Gang and a sombre piano score from the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi – it's the electric performances from both Cluzet and Sy that stand out the most.
Cluzet – who is a dead ringer for Dustin Hoffman – gives a spectacular performance; his eyes do most of the talking. Sy, an actor who has been winning awards left, right and centre for this breakthrough performance, shows an aptitude for comedy and his highly expressive mannerisms bring vibrancy to every scene he blesses.
Hurry up and watch The Intouchables, before it’s sullied by a big Hollywood adaptation.