In the face of America’s escalation in the world of superheroes, Douglas Attal presents the first feature film of the genre set in France. Could the future of superheroic production be in France? Critical.
On the small and big screens, superheroes are everywhere. But while Hollywood is having fun, in France it’s a different story. Cautious enough, French cinema struggles to trust this kind of production. The last success of the genre was undoubtedly the Herocorp series by Simon Astier, which made France’s heyday 4 to 2017. Since then, genre proposals have been rare, even if Black Snake by Thomas Ngijol has tried the experience through the prism of humour, to results far from perfect. challenge. How I became a superhero therefore acts as a tipping point for French 7th art and intends to establish itself as a reference in the field.
In contemporary Paris, as opposed to the Americas of the novel, Comment I becomes a superhero painting a portrait of a society where superpowers run rampant and where super-crime is ubiquitous. Lieutenant Moreau must investigate with his partner Schaltzmann and two former vigilantes Monte Carlo and Callista on a new substance that allows everyone to gain their extraordinary abilities.
With its original premise, which was to turn the superhero universe into a simpler everyday life with far less stakes than its American counterparts, Douglas Attal’s films benefit from uniquely successful characters. . Here, superheroes go about their daily lives as basketball coaches or retired citizens and entrust their anxieties to therapists. This more human side of the screenplay is undoubtedly a strength of the film’s narrative, which however doesn’t hesitate to slip in some references to the works of the genre’s founders.
The screenplay revisits the thriller’s code and adds a fantastic welcome touch. This fully controlled plot covers over an hour and a half of the feature film and does not experience any length. With solid dramatic intensity, without oozing into melodrama, Douglas Attal’s first film manages to take us into its universe, with these codes and an identity of its own. However we note the weakness of the dialogue, which sometimes contrasts with the seriousness of certain scenes. It’s a shame considering the talent of the different actors present in this Made in France production.
In front of the camera, it was a talent festival. Pio Marmai in the lead role did very well and gave a challenging performance in both the fight scenes and the fights with different characters. This is especially evident in his interactions with the character Vimala Pons. But the casting doesn’t stop there as Douglas Attal has also recruited Leïla Bekhti and Benoît Poelvoorde into the two superheroes’ camp back. They brilliantly embody these ancient heroic figures, slightly overwhelmed by events. On the other hand, we regret the choice of a somewhat cartoonish antagonist, which distorts the story and his desire to free himself from the machinations of codified genre films. We gladly forgave him this minor flaw that did not affect our view.
Superhero filmmaking already represents a significant screenplay challenge, but, especially on the special effects side, the task is surprisingly difficult. If the first images shared in the trailer don’t really allow to get an idea of how this superpower will be transcribed on screen, it’s clear that things are holding up well. It must be said that they are reduced to a strict minimum, for our greatest pleasure. Far from being a coincidence and ending, how I became a superhero is an assumed and effective visual proposition. In terms of light management, for example, this film performs small wonders as beautifully as it inspires. With no frills, the director sets the action in his humblest set and delivers compelling sequences without falling into over-the-top offering.
Both in form and substance, How I became a superhero was a real success. The film that was originally promised for a theatrical release will no doubt be worth showing in theaters to prove that the genre can be successful in France. We will be content with broadcasts on Netflix , where it should soon meet its French and international audiences. With the attack power of the red N, Douglas Attal has all the cards in hand to make his feature film shine beyond our borders.