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EDMOND gets 6/10 Comedy of on-stage errors


Directed by Alexis Michalik

Starring Thomas Solivéres, Lucie Boujenah, Tom Leebs, Olivier Gourmet

6/10

The backstage anxieties of the theatre can be a fun watch when it’s viewed in a film, the theatre’s rival medium. Edmond takes these anxieties to a heightened and brash level, yet also alleviates them because of its airy and unserious sensibility.

This is the tale of how the young and struggling playwright Edmond Rostand (Thomas Solivéres) conceived the idea of his play Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897, which is shown here as the little play that could. Inspired by his romantic letters to Jeanne (Lucie Boujenah), though under the guise of the handsome Leo (Tom Leebs), Edmond conceives his play about unrequited love, writing and rehearsing and staging it all simultaneously.

Edmond really captures the frenzied passion, yet lack of coordination this landmark play had during its conception – though the extravagance and dialled-up whimsy of this film’s mood adds further to the suspicion of how gleefully false this account is. This film makes no declarations about being historically accurate.

It does, however, feels obliged to fill itself with as large an ensemble cast as the play itself. It manages to keep afloat an interest in the cast, crew, and financiers of the play, all the while keeping main focus on Edmond as his backstage anxieties try to suffocate him, done not to the realistic degree of films like Birdman or Opening Night, but in much more of a comical farce – it’s light on the palette, but impressive in its busy on-screen display.

Edmond aims so squarely on being a crowd-pleaser, it just can’t help but make sure it ties itself off with happy endings for its immense ensemble. It’s satisfying to see Edmond and the main players of his play rejoice in its creation, but even the characters the film obviously has a comical indifference to are also given satisfying closures, albeit contrived ones (particularly for Edmond’s poor sidelined wife).

As evidenced by the numerous stage adaptations of this play over the past century shown in the ending credits, Edmond is an absolute love letter to it, fawning over its historical legacy and wondrous conception (or at least how they’ve shown it here). This is a playful and amusing backstage comedy, but one that doesn’t authentically probe into the artistry of its title character.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

Edmond plays as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival. Buy your tickets here.

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