Germain Pigoil (Gerard Jugnot) runs the show at a Parisian theater in the early 1930s. His wife Vivienne (Elizabeth Vitali) dances and fools around with various members of the troupe, while his loyal young son Jojo (Maxence Perrin) studies the accordion on the side.
The cabaret-styled show hits hard times at the start of 1936, leading sleazy developer Galapiat (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) to close the theater. Pigoil ends up alone once his ex-wife takes Jojo, but the old stage manager hooks up with goofy jokester Jacky (Kad Merad) and leftist organizer/heartbreaker Milou (Clovis Cornilac) to restart the show in the hopes of saving the troupe and reclaiming his son. The sexy and electrifying Douce (Nora Arnezeder) becomes the centerpiece of the new program and the object that sets rivals Galapiat and Milou on a collision course.
Co-writer and director Christophe Barratier taps into deep reservoirs of nostalgia in this period musical drama and refuses to taint the affair with contemporary flourishes to lure in the Baz Luhrmann set. This is a decidedly old-school approach shot with color and clarity that somehow feels like the perfect blend of period and current sensibilities, likely due to solid performances all around, especially from the ingénue Arnezeder whose appeal will seem terribly familiar to the young pop-diva watchers of today. But it’s Jugnot who guides us on this trip down memory lane and keeps everything safely on course. Grade: B
Opens May 1 at Esquire Theatre. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and find nearby bars and restaurants here.