Wrecked On Road 17 (les Naufrags De La D17)

on May 29, 2002 by Chris Wiegand
A sour cocktail of gross-out farce, maddening slapstick and badly-judged gags involving Saddam Hussein, “Wrecked On Road 17” will test the patience of anyone averse to ‘crazy comedies' built around ‘madcap antics.'

The worst thing is, this dud looked pretty promising on paper. Co-stars Mathieu Amalric (“Alice Et Martin”) and Sabine Haudepin (“La Pagaille”) boast some impressive credits on their CVs and veteran writer-director Luc Moullet came up with the luminaries of the French New Wave. While several of the director's Cahiers du Cinéma cohorts are presently enjoying a purple patch in their careers (Godard with “Eloge De L'Amour,” Rohmer with “The Lady And The Duke”), Moullet's latest displays little staying power.

Set during the Gulf War, the film follows the misfortunes of a wily rally driver (Patrick Bouchitey) and his long-suffering female assistant (Iliana Lolic) as they pass through Majastres, a sleepy backwater in the South of France. When their car breaks down, the driver dispatches his companion to seek help. As he preens in the marooned auto, she suffers a run-in with a brittle old lady and enjoys a quick romp in the hay with a randy farmer. Concurrent to her adventures, we're introduced to all sorts of wacky subplots involving astrophysics and World War III.

Your enjoyment of such clumsy, clunking hijinks really depends on whether you find a woman shoving her fist up a goat's backside exceedingly amusing. It would be nice to think that this bucolic comedy lost something in translation, for the whole is about as funny as root canal surgery and equally excruciating. Even a curt running time of 85 minutes can't save it.

Is “Wrecked On Road 17” really this bad? Well, the resolution is remotely amusing. Whether many viewers will stick around that long is another matter… Starring Patrick Bouchitey, Iliana Lolic, Sabine Haudepin and Mathieu Amalric. Directed and written by Luc Moullet. Produced by Paulo Branco. No distributor set. French-language; subtitled. Comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 85 min.

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