Cassos Philippe Carrese

Cassos Philippe Carrese
Cassos could have used a little more time in the incubator. Philippe Carrese's self-conscious little crime comedy about a spineless, browbeaten man who wants to have his domineering wife killed doesn't feel fully formed.

The writer/director forces a variety of clichés on the film's structure (beginning near the end before rewinding and assigning each section a sub-heading, for example), which gives the impression that Carrese is as desperate for arbitrary validation as his pathetic protagonist is.

Marc (Didier Benureau, coming across like a frumpier Steve Carrel) is a balding imbecile who takes a job driving for a jewellery store heist in order to secure untraceable funds to pay for the hit on his wife. To engineer sympathy for the middle-aged dork, his legal life partner is presented as a first-rate bitch; she verbally castrates him over minor laundry issues and barely tries to conceal a steamy affair she's having with her piano teacher. This is supposed to be funny.

We're also meant to chuckle over Marc's lame excitement at getting two lotto numbers right; he wins nothing but even a meaningless victory gives him at least a meagre sense of self-worth. Basically, the film's entire sense of humour is built around his awkward attempts to manufacture a degree of confidence and regain a sense of personal pride.

A few early scenes garner a smirk or two, like when he bungles the pick-up of his partner in crime and is mistaken for an embarrassed pervert on a cruising mission, but for the most part, Marc's kowtowing is just grating.

For the bulk of the film, professional criminal, Toulouse (Simon Astier), grudgingly tries to teach Marc how to be a predator instead of a "predatee." And with no meaning destination in mind, it's the cinematic equivalent of treading water.

More repetitive gags and bumbling mix-ups ensue all the way to a finish line that can be seen coming from miles away.

For a low budget comedy, Cassos looks decent and the slight sense of humour Carrese employs (oh look, the pitiable schmuck is chicken-necking to bluegrass music: hilarious!) is amiable enough that the cheap tomfoolery is mostly just forgettable instead of aggravating. But that's hardly enough to advise an investment of precious viewing time.

Facile, consequence-free male power fantasies are a dime a dozen and there's nothing special about this one. (Art Cinefeel)