OSS117: Lost in Rio (2009)

The names De La Bath, Hubert De La Bath.

In the first of the occasional series under the banner of Second Chance Cinema Moviescramble has a look at the 2009 French film OSS117: Lost in Rio.

From the same director and star of The Artist came two spy caper movies. These were based on the OSS117 character created in 1949 by French writer Jean Bruce. Over two hundred novels and seven films were produced. It is from this rich source the two parody films emerged. The first one made in 2006 was OSS117: Cairo, nest of spies. Its follow-up three years later is the film OSS117: Lost in Rio. Outside of France the film received a limited cinematic release and as a consequence it is not as well known as it deserves to be.

The story revolves around Frances greatest spy, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, codename OSS117. The year is 1968. He is sent on a mission to Rio to retrieve a microfilm with the names of French collaborators. The microfilm is unfortunately is in the hands of exiled Nazis and De La Bath must pay them off in order to get it back. He travels to Rio and in the course of his adventures he travels all over Brazil and interacts with many different characters including Chinese gangsters, Hippies, Mossad agents, Mexican wrestlers, Brazilian children and the aforementioned Nazis.

As has been said this a parody of the spy adventure films of the sixties. It shot like a hip sixties film with lots of sequences with cool bossa nova and Dean Martin music, bright colours, hip designs and split screens. All very groovy. The main character is an exaggerated version of the Sean Connery Bond character. He is vain, misogynistic, borderline racist man of the times. In the previous film all his racist remarks were directed at Muslims. This time it is expanded to Chinese, Jewish Muslim and even the French. The man is a buffoon who stumbles from one situation to the next somehow managing to stay alive.

The film is very well made. A lot of care has been taken and the film obviously had a  reasonable budget with many location shots and fantastic period set dressing.  Set pieces in the film echo Vertigo in several scenes and North By Northwest in the films climax.  As well as the central role played by Jean Dujardin the rest of the parts are very well cast. All roles have enough development to allow the actors to really bring them alive. Although the film is a parody it is noticeable that there are no knowing nods towards the camera by anyone.

An entertaining film that looses nthing in the translation and is worth seeking out. With the success of The Artist this film may receive a little more attention which cannot be bad. Recommended.

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