OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d’espions (2006)

(On DVD, September 2007) What a strange, strange concept: Adapt an old French spy thriller to the screen and poke fun at its outdated assumptions. Jean Dujardin is magnificent as “Agent OSS 117”, but it doesn’t take much for his high-wire performance to turn sour if you’re not in the right frame of mind. His old-school French parochialism is either amusing or irritating, and that pretty much speaks for the entire film: it’s a satire, but often a frustrating one as the clueless protagonist can being either charming or infuriating. At least the period recreation is convincing (down to cinematic techniques that call back to the early James Bond era), Aure Atika is gorgeous in her too-short turn as Princess Al Tarouk and a few gags stick in mind far longer than they should. It’s definitely a curiosity, and as such warrants at least a look even if it doesn’t quite work all the time.

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