Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Return of the Hero

Reviews - Return of the Hero

Return of the Hero

Reviewed By Roger Gook

Return of the Hero
Return of the Hero
'Return of the Hero', shown at last Sunday's Keswick Film Club, was as light as a soufflé that won't lodge in the memory but is great fun while it lasts.

In Napoleonic France, Neuville a soldier with more sharp wits than bravery is engaged to young society debutante, Pauline, when he is called off to fight in Austria. He fails to write to Pauline, who becomes distraught. Her sister Elisabeth forges letters from him, detailing his adventures and feats of bravery. She soon realises that it's all becoming very complicated and so kills him off in a suitably heroic way. However, three years later he returns, drunken and derelict having deserted from his regiment, to find he's mourned as a hero in the town. Much to the rising panic of Elisabeth, he decides to use this to his advantage.

Jean Dujardin as Neuville wonderfully sends up his matinee idol image, and with his easy charm and dazzling smile gives us a character who is as much buffoon as cad. The ensuing cat-and-mouse game forms the heart of the film, as Neuville and Elisabeth effortlessly spark off each. Elisabeth's (Melanie Laurent) huge eyes are impressive with an endless variety of rolls, sideways glances, and other expressions of disdain and incredulity. The confusion and deception gather pace with the opulence of its setting and staging clashing pleasingly with the frivolity of the story.

'Return of the Hero' is a fast, funny and unchallenging romp of a film to which it is easy to succumb. It has the ephemeral impact of a footprint in light snow but is a great showcase for its two leads.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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