”Would I Lie To You?” is so typically a French film. You don't really see films like this coming from Hollywood (or Britain for that matter). It is a little character piece where not that much happens, yet it passes the time pleasantly enough. It is not really a comedy but neither is it a serious drama and consequently it makes it quite hard to review, but I'll give it a go!
The basic story is a classic rags-to-riches tale following the life of a down-trodden character by the name of Eddie (Richard Anconinia). After an altercation with a street trader in the Jewish district of Paris, he is rescued by local Jewish businessman Victor Benzakhem who assumes Eddie to be Jewish and takes him under his wing. Eddie doesn't realise this has happened due to his mistaken religion but as he becomes further entwined in the business and the lives of his Jewish colleagues it isn't long before the penny drops. Eddie soon makes a good impression in the company and shows he has a talent for sales that leads to a promotion to the sales team. This also brings him closer to the boss's daughter Sandra whom he had previously only watched from afar. Unfortunately for Eddie the success and popularity he is gaining within the company is all based on the misconception that he is Jewish - when Eddie realises this, rather than correct the mistake, he feels he has gone too far and instead starts to pretend he is indeed Jewish. This leads to plenty of misunderstandings and several funny moments - especially when Eddie makes faux-pas with the various Jewish ceremonies and customs.
The drama element comes as Eddie uses his business acumen to try and help his boss Victor move into new business opportunities, however when met with opposition he joins forces with Patrick, the entrepreneurial playboy cousin of his friend Serge and together they set up their own business. This venture works well but brings Eddie in competition with his old boss both in business but also in trying to win the hand of his daughter - all the while trying to cover up his non-Jewish roots. There are plenty of other side stories from the other characters in this movie and due to the high quality cast, these all work well. Although there is obviously a strong Jewish bias to this movie, the themes of religious bigotry, stereotypes and sexism are universally recognised - even to a non-Jewish, non-French person like me.
”Would I Lie To You Again?” takes the formula that proved so popular with the first movie and continues the theme a few years on. This instalment reunites almost the entire original cast but has a slightly more polished feel to it and if anything is actually a more enjoyable movie. This time around we see Eddie and his friends now well established with their fabric printing firm and in negotiations with a cutthroat supermarket chain “EuroDiscount” to provide them with their clothing range. Unfortunately for Eddie the purchasing manager for EuroDiscount, Vierhouten is a wily old fox and uses every trick in the book to crush small producers like Eddie. Eddie was betrayed in his dealings with Vierhouten and after investing everything he had to meet EuroDiscount's stringent demands, he was left with nothing. This movie mainly deals with Eddies reversal in fortunes and how he tries to get his revenge. Like the first movie there is still the strong Jewish element, however this time the mistaken identity is no longer Eddie's, but his friend Serge. Whilst out running errands for his rich cousin Patrick, he meets a beautiful women, Chochana, who thinks Serge himself is a successful businessman. Like Eddie in the first movie, Serge cannot risk losing the interest of this women so does everything he can to keep the myth alive - again with some funny results along the way. Some of the best moments in this movie come when Serge tries to juggle all the false stories to keep his proposed marriage to Chochana on track. There is a very funny scene when the two sets of parents meet to discuss the marriage and unbeknownst to each other, both have been told that the other set of parents are suffering from mental problems which allows Serge to weave his way through the lies.
Again, this movie works on multiple levels - this time there is less focus on the cultural aspects, more on social stereotypes, materialism and especially on the way that large corporations use their power to manipulate their suppliers. English viewers might miss out on many of the nuances that a native French speaker would pick up on and also on the “fruity” language used here that the subtitles don't really portray, but even taking that into account, both films offer some good entertainment and having them on one disc together is a bonus.
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