Penny Pincher (Radin!) Review

Went to see this last night, the last movie on my list of movies to see as part of the 2017 Alliance Française French Film Festival. Not long after the movie started, I was laughing so hard. A nice refreshing change after the past couple of weeks.

The movie starts with an unborn François Gautier, his mother stressing at their unpaid bills, and his father surrounded by crap he bought from catalogues. His mother makes a desperate wish that her son doesn’t end up like his father.

Cut a montage of François growing up, and being incredibly stingy, including using a sample condom from 1964 when he lost his virginity. As an adult, he is hated by his neighbours, co-workers and people who end up behind him in the grocery line, due to his penny-pinching ways. He dodges co-workers who try to collect money for a going away gift, and relies on streetlamps to provide lighting for his home. He often gets stomach cramps due to eating food that has long since expired, like tomato sauce from 2006, and his best friend seems to be his banker.  He is never shown as particularly mean-spirited, just incredibly miserly.

A girl shows up, claiming to be his daughter (well, what do you expect when you’re using a condom from 1964, and a sample one at that?) and the usual comedy-turn-your-world-upside-down thing starts to happen. Not only that, but he falls for fellow orchestra musician Valérie, whose crazy allergies result in a first date that is not within his budget.

The movie has a lot of the common tropes (e.g. lie blown out of proportion – though in his defense, François never tells the lie, he just goes along with it when others do), but I do like that it also subverts a lot of tropes. François never gives up his miserly ways due to the “power of love”, which is something I liked. Also, there were no obvious idiot ball moments. There was one scene where François reads a message that causes him to believe his daughter isn’t who she says she is, but rather than go off in a huff, he goes to confront her and isn’t just given the whole, “It’s not what it looks like!” excuse, but they actually explain what happened.

For sure, this is a lowbrow comedy, but I really enjoyed it, and was laughing most of the way through. Though there were some awkward moments when I seemed to have read the subtitles faster than everyone else, and burst out laughing before the punchline had been said and was the only one laughing. I’m pretty sure the man next to me thought I was crazy, as he left almost as soon as the credits started rolling, which meant he missed the stinger.

The style of the movie is also what I like – witty dialogue, cutaway jokes, callouts to other movies, trope subversion. It was also funny to hear Vivaldi’s Spring played at double speed. If I could get it in Australia, it’d probably be something I put on to cheer myself up. As far as the practicing French part went… it went pretty badly. There were some moments where I could translate some of the sentences, but I was laughing too much to focus on what they were saying.

I don’t know if it’s just the topic, but the movie made me really reflect on the way I’ve lived my life. I definitely tend towards the miserly side, though I’ve gotten a lot better. This past month has been interesting with the $400 a month challenge. I actually ended up exceeding $400, but not by much, and the month is almost over.

Things I did this month that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have done:

  • Arnold classic
  • French film festival
  • had lunch with so many different people
  • Zero latency
I don’t regret any of them, and I think my life feels richer for having done it.
As much as it is a chore writing a blog post every day, and even though my writing is getting stale, I feel like I am growing a lot as a person – which is an odd thing to say given how old I am, but I think it’s true. My mum told my sister that she’ll never become a great writer unless she has a great life to draw inspiration from. I feel like I write better when I’m feeling sad, but I’m not always going to be sad, and I can’t rely on that to inspire me.
The other benefit to doing more things is that I don’t feel so awkward talking to people anymore. My most dreaded question at work used to be, “What are you doing this weekend?” to which I’d usually reply that I didn’t have much planned, as that seemed better than telling the whole truth (just gaming). That would usually result in an awkward trip down the lift. Now, when people ask, I feel like I have something to contribute to the conversation. I still get called weird, but I don’t think that’s ever going to end. I actually invited D’s mother to come to the French film festival with me, and he said, “What, you think I’m going to ask my mum to go on a date with some random girl from work?” I don’t know where he got the date part from, but he’s always calling me weird, so I’ve decided to just embrace it. Although to be honest, it was a bluff, as there was no way his mother was going to come with me to see a movie.
The Spanish film festival starts up soon, and I’m pretty excited about that. I also want to start my own mini-movie club (although it’ll probably be just me and the blog), reviewing different movies from SBS on Demand. The plan is to do one a month, though I guess I’ll see how busy I am. The first one I want to do is Be Kind, Rewind (SBS on demand link, IMDB link). It sounds like my kind of movie. Description from IMDB:

Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.

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