Max & Leon | Chicago Reader

Max & Leon

98 minutes 2016

The title characters—a pair of foundlings, now grown men and fast friends in Mâcon, France—are drafted into the army to fight Hitler and, following a series of battlefield misadventures, impersonate Gestapo agents as they help out the resistance. Jonathan Barré, who wrote and directed this 2016 farce, was born a generation after La Grande Vadrouille (1966), the French service comedy that inspired him, and two generations after the war itself, so one shouldn't be surprised that he treats the period setting as if it were a stage flat, injecting the story with a satirical hipness alien to its time and place. Eventually this tonal anachronism creeps into the story details: bar patrons watch a TV sitcom years before the French had broadcast television, and a Nazi propaganda film concocted by Max and Leon is shot and cut like a modern-day pharmaceutical commercial. Possibly these are gags, but that uncertainty is the inevitable outcome of having no fixed perspective on your material. In French with subtitles.

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