“Welcome to the Sticks”– A recommendation

You know how you go along to see a movie without knowing anything about it except that it has no gratuitous violence or special effects?

Well, that’s how we chose this little treasure of a movie. “Welcome to the Sticks” is absolutely captivating. It’s witty, heart-warming and brilliantly produced.

In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, Mark Antony says he came to bury Caesar, not to praise him. I find that it’s so much easier to criticise or bury something than to sing its praises. One can be acerbic. laconic, acidic, mean and nasty and that takes little effort, on my part, anyway. But try to say you liked a film very, very, very, much and if you go on it begins to sound a bit cloying.

‘Welcome to the Sticks” is such fun and yet touching. Its actors are faultless. The script is fluent and logical and I’m so glad we went to see it.

So what is it about? Well, it involves a post office manager who is transferred to the Northern region of France as a punishment for misrepresenting himself as disabled. He doesn’t want to go, they speak ‘funny’ there and the weather is too cold.

When he arrives, he finds that their dialect is practically incomprehensible, owing to the proximity to Belgium and Holland. So starts what could have been pretty pathetic had it not been handled by a director with finesse.

So how do you convey a dialect in subtitles? We have all been to film where the subtitles are so bad that they aren’t any help at all.

These ones, however, are brilliant. It’s the first time that I’ve ever been blown over by the excellence of subtitles and there should be an award at film festivals for that category, in my opinion. Even the title of the film in English is a play on words on the patois of the region. Words beginning with “S are pronounced “SH” hence the French title “Ch’tis” and then we have the double entendre of “Sticks” as a place where you don’t want to have a vacation. Yes , there is a message in the movie about myths and stereotypes and prejudice, but it’s gently done and with much good humour.

Had some American producer made this movie with Adam Sandler or someone like him it would have been a disaster. Everything would have been explained ad infinitum, but in the hands of director and actor, Dany Boon, who originally comes for that ‘tragic’ region “Welcome to the Sticks” has been a runaway success which broke all box office records in France.

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