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UK / France, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Ben Lewin

Featuring a stunning cast and the assured hand of director Ben Lewm, The Favour, The Watch and The Very Big Fish is a surreal and romantic comedy based on Marcel Ayme's book Samt-Sulplice. This area of Paris used to be lined with shops selling religious artifacts ranging from statues and medals to holy pic­tures Ayme's book explores what would hap­pen if someone who posed as Christ for a photograph came to believe in his own divini­ty If the story strikes you as reminiscent of /es»s of Montreal, then you are right, but Lewm imparts a very different tone to his film, his is a kind of surreal comedy rather than the biting social and political satire of Arcand's film.

Bob Hoskins plays Louis, a photographer who ekes out a small living taking devotional photographs of religious scenes He works for Norbert (Michel Blanc) who owns a store sell­ing these artifacts and who tells his photogra­pher that he must find a person to pose as Christ or lose his job. Meanwhile, Louis meets Sybil (Natasha Richardson) while dubbing a porno movie, who tells him about her compli­cated love affair with a pianist (Jeff Goldblum) whose intense jealousy landed him in prison. As fate would have it, the bearded pianist is a perfect Christ, and upon his release from jail finds himself posing in front of the photogra­pher's lens. Lewin manages to keep a firm grip on the absurdities of the situation, deftly bal­ancing comedy withm the surreal to make a film of amusing conflict.

• Piers Handling Festival of Festivals Montreal

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