Wednesday, June 04, 2014
"Tour de Force": a middle aged "loser" really wants to ride the famous bicycle race across all of France
“Tour de Force” (directed by Laurent Tuel, original title, “La grande boucle”, meaning “The Large Loop”) is a French farce centered on its most famous sporting event, the world cycling competition known as the Tour de France. The protagonist is a middle aged dilettante, Francois Nouel (Clovis Comillac), who loses his job and his wife in one day, and then decides that all by himself he will join the Tour as a competitor. His charismatic son teen Thomas (Paul Granier) remains loyal to dad, and curiously never appears in shorts.
The movie does provide eye candy. A lot of the race takes place in the Pyrenees, with rustic scenes involving sheep and cowbells. Some of the film is shot in Basque country. I actually spent an evening in Lourdes in May 2001 and could see the Pyrenees from the train approaching the town. There are also some scenes around Calais. In 1999, I rented a car in Paris, stayed in Bayeux, and lost the car keys, and had to take a commuter train to Caen to get another car. But the countryside looked familiar. I’ve also driven some of the tunnels in Paris (in one of them, Princess Diana was killed in a wreck in 1997).
The plot is complicated by an accusation that Francois actually doped, which could hardly make sense. He proves that he didn’t do so by collapsing. There’s a scene early where a lot of riders parade on a stage, legs shaved, to the music of Franz Liszt’s “Les Preludes”. Later, we see Francois’s gams being massaged, by both women and men, and they are absolutely hairless. But we never see him shave (in fact he is often inappropriately dressed). He must have lost it during middle age.
There’s an extra in a scene in Paris near the end who looks like a doppelganger of me. I don’t see how that’s possible; I haven’t been there since 2001.
The film (from Fidelite and Wild Bunch) was shown as part of Angelika’s French film festival.
It feels like the time to go to Europe is approaching. Remember, they’re performing Schoenberg’s “Gurrelieder” in Amsterdam in the fall of 2014.