Sunday, January 25, 2015

Zazie dans le métro

TCM is spending Monday morning and afternoon in Paris. One of the movies that I don't think I've blogged about before is Zazie dans le métro, at 9:45 AM.

Zazie (credited to Catherine Demongeot) is a 10-year-old girl who lives with her divorced mother in some provincial town in France. At least, she does when Mom isn't trying to woo another in a long string of boyfriends that requires Mom needing some time to herself and the boyfriend. The movie opens with another of those times. This time, Mom drops Zazie off with her uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret) for a couple of days. Gabriel works in the show at the nightclub, which you'd think isn't the best place to leave a kid, but then Zazie is no ordinary kid, giving as good as she gets.

Zazie apparently hasn't been to Paris before, because she informs Uncle Gabriel that she wants to ride the métro, or subway. And boy is shoe going to pester him to make certain he eventually takes her on that subway ride! You'd think they'd have to take the subway eventually, like any normal person in a big city with a bunch of subway lines, and so the little girl can just cool her heels for a bit. Zazie apparently just wants to ride the rails for fun, though. So eventually she makes her way to the nearest métro station and learns something shocking: the workers have gone on strike, and the system is hsut down. No subway ride for poor Zazie!

What's a girl to do? Well, Zazie, headstrong thing that she is, decides she's going to turn the city upside down if she can't have her way and get that subway ride. She proceeds to turn the city upside down, leading Gabriel on a series of adventers through markets, through crowded streets, and up and down the Eiffel Tower, among other things. Generally, she spends the day making life a nightmare for her poor uncle who has to take care of her. You can see why Mom would want to drop her off with a relative for a couple of days.

It's all told in a zany style, and that may be a problem for some viewers. Some of the reviews on IMDb say that Zazie dans le métro compares almost to a Looney Tunes cartoon come to life, and that's not such a bad description. There is a lot of humor to be had here, but there are also times when the way in which that humor is presented may be a bit over the top for some viewers because it's so overwhelmingly zany. On the plus side, the zaniness covers up the fact that Zazie, when you get down to it, is a bit of a spoiled brat and the sort of child character one might not like otherwise if the movie weren't as zany as it is.

Ultimately, I think Zazie dans le métro is one of those movies where its better to know what you're getting into when you watch it. If you sit down expecting something absurd, I think you'll really enjoy it. But if one were to watch not knowing the movie was going to turn absurd, I can understand people feeling a bit on edge.

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