The Big Hit (Un Triomphe) Review – Encore! A Feel-Good Comedy

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The Big Hit, an AFI European Union Film Festival U.S. premiere, presents a feel-good comedy as an unlikely troupe of prison actors, led by an out of work director, become the most in-demand players around the country.

The film opens with Etienne, played by Kad Merad, walking into a prison in Lyon, France, the ritual of checkpoints, long hallways of locked doors, as he embarks on his new gig, running a theater workshop.

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His troupe of talents, we understand, are hardened criminals, who show up to have a few laughs and pass the time. Only what they didn’t know is Etienne is serious and he plans to make them serious also.

A few weeks into his workshop he decides to stage Samuel Beckett's famous play, "Waiting for Godot." Seeking the warden’s permission, the unlikely thespians are now on a required regiment. They must be responsible; they must practice and learn their lines, or they have no purpose for the troupe.

Along the way we see a curiousness build into indestructible dedication. We move from a self-centered existence to a united loyalty. The trust bond, necessary for the troupe, had solidified.

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Finally, after six months of working with the new actors to fine-tune their natural talents Etienne is given permission to take the colorful band of convicts on a tour into the outside world. They are the toast of the town! Sudden celebrities, the show has been requested throughout the region and they are essentially on tour.

Their newfound celebrity status is not without its drawbacks. On the outside they are actors, applauded for their talent, when they return to the prison they are convicts and the harsh conditions are escalated with each outside success. The duality of the life challenges the men which then becomes their own personal internal struggle. Their freedom to perform is due to their imprisonment.

The system is harsh and one moment of frivolity lands them all in solitary. An unexpected invitation to perform in Paris, at the National Theatre, every actor’s dream stage, arrives and after much wrangling the warden secures the pass. It is a night where the decision makers and the elite have arrived to see this unexpected troupe bring down the house.

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The Big Hit, (Un Triomphe), explores the unusual and unexpected places where talent can grow. The film delivers as it balances the emotions of both freedom and confinement. Based on a true story, the film combines strong storytelling and convincing character driven plots to drive this winning comedy.

With English subtitles, The Big Hit delivers brilliant performances from the young, up-and-coming cast, as well as veteran actors from the Comédie Française, the oldest active theater company in the world.

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The AFI European Union Film Festival, extended through December 27, 2020, features a slate of unique and intriguing films. The Big Hit, (Un Triomphe), a U.S. premiere, is also an official selection of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, and is available to viewers located anywhere in in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, via this link:

Year: 2020

Runtime: 105 minutes

Language: French with English subtitles.

Country: France

Director: Emmanuel Courcol

Screenwriter: Emmanuel Courcol, Thierry de Carbonnières

Producer: Marc Bordure, Robert Guédiguian

Cast: Kad Merad, David Ayala, Lamine Cissokho, Sofian Khammes, Pierre Lottin, Wabinle Nabie, Aleksandr Medvedev, Said Benchnafa, Marina Hands, and Laurent Stocker.

Image courtesy of the AFI European Film Festival. #AFIfilmeu.

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