Thursday 31 May 2012

Obscurity Files- Cash

That Jean Dujardin from The Artist, he's a nice guy isn't he? Well, since his success with The Artist a whole bunch of films from his back catalogue are slowly resurfacing, including Cash, his 2008 heist comedy. But is it any good?

Reinforcing the newly invented stereotype that all famous French actors are called Jean (with the exception of one big bloke called Gerard), Cash brings two of them together for a Ocean's Eleven style bank heist that seems a little bit confused about who the main star is.

I mean, look at the DVD cover with its poorly photoshopped on image of Jean Reno, complete with 'Leon' style sunglasses, taking up most of the space. I'm not even sure if he holds a gun in the entire film. Jean Dujardin's face does make the cover, although I've seen a variant cover without him entirely. Horrendously sold in the UK as a Jean Reno action film, much more appropriate to the star billing is the original French poster, which whilst being incredibly generic and 'Ocean's-Eleven'-sy, at least puts its main actor at the front.

As many may have guessed after seeing this year's Oscars, Jean Dujardin is France's very own answer to George Clooney. Maybe not gruff awards hungry Syriana Clooney, but definitely ladies man charmer Ocean's Eleven Clooney. Playing a suave Frenchman (good to see he's not typecast), Dujardin's character Cash (hence the name of the movie) is a hustler, a chancer, able to gain a strangers bank card details with via a rather ingenious method that you can't help admire.

As well as the charming Jean Dujardin and the dependable supporting player Jean Reno, we also have the femme fatale, here a government agent (but with a secret!) played by Valeria Golino. Golino, star of many a teenage boys dream after her appearance in Hot Shots in the early 90's, has aged very, very well over the last twenty years, her role as a cop offering a deal they can't refuse gifting the opportunity for her to don many a revealing party dress.

With stylish visuals (swipes and splitscreens) taken directly from the Ocean's franchise, the now ubiquitous big band heist music popularised by David Holmes on Stephen Soderbergh's Ocean's films are present, although now it's got to the point that it feels weird to see a con going on without listening to some music from that genre. A film thats pace never lets up thanks to the music, we all know that Dujardin likes to dance, but unfortunately our Cash never gets to tango.

Cash is a perfectly enjoyable piece of fluff, if not quite showing off Dujardin's skills as well as The Artist and OSS did. There's been questions as to where Jean Dujardin's career will head after his out-of-leftfield Oscar win, but this is a genre in which he could have a lot of success. It may be exceptionally lighter in tone, but Cash has the potential for a Nine Queens/Criminal style remake; hey, maybe even Jean Dujardin (with his massively increased international fanbase off the back of The Artist) could reprise his role? Why the hell not?

Like an ultra European episode of Hustle, you're never quite sure who the mark is. Of course, if you want to get all meta-textual, it's us the viewer, and the film has all the twists and turns it can manage to make sure we feel like we've joined in with this rollercoaster of double crossing fun. 
The con may be on, but what it is doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Save from obscurity? Yeah, go on then.

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