PARIS – Why does the press insist on reminding us of the financial success of films, as if the audience is composed of potential investors? Knowing that Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis was the absolute box-office hit in France in 2008, does not make it a better film. This is akin to claiming BP’s petrol is better than Exxon’s because their stock is more stable. It really is not related. But why do we keep seeing it?
This year starts with a similar curiosity as 2008, with the film Lol (Laughing out loud) by Lisa Azuelos having attracted the most viewers. Having been one of those people who walked in, but also walked out(!), something which happens to me very rarely, the thought that it would now hug the limelight is embarrassing. I had even snobbed it out of a crushing review. So how does a film like this attract so many people? Before being accused of living in some little Parisian bubble, notice that even on the IMDB only 2 people bothered to comment on its merits! But let me make a case for the attraction of the film anyway.
For those lucky enough to have missed it, the concept is actually quite appealing: the always beautiful Sophie Marceau, who was a teenager in the hugely successful 80s party film La Boum, is now back as a mother with a partying daughter. A true generational film, especially for those who were around in the 1980s to live the original with her. Sounds like fun. But the movie near opens with a young girl claiming something along the lines of “he MSN-ed me and I downloaded it from Myspace”… and you know that the film is a farce. Not because a teen could not say that sentence, but because it is so obviously constructed, like the title. A film can not be about youth and have to explain such trivialities such as “Lol” as well, should there still be anyone around who does not know what it means. But of course, this is not a debate about quality, or lack thereof. This is about misguidance.
Lol is not a good film and you would waste your time going to see it, as I have (partly) done and many others with me. No doubt some people appreciated seeing Sophie Marceau again but that does not change the appalling level of the film. If the audience was offered the chance to reward the film with a number of stars on leaving the cinema, as one does when one deletes an iPhone application, movies could be judged on appreciation instead of on financial gain or number of people who were caught out. Of course, even with appreciation level established, we could be very surprised by the result… lol.