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Yoyo

Posted by martinteller on June 5, 2014

A man (Pierre Etaix) is wealthy beyond imagination, and has all the entertainments of the world at his feet.  And yet nothing seems to satisfy him, he dreams only of the woman he lost (Luce Klein).  Then destiny brings her to his doorstep… she’s an acrobat in a travelling circus, and her son — their son — Yoyo (Philippe Dionnet) is a little clown.  The circus leaves, and when the Great Depression leaves the man penniless, he runs off to join them.  Now Yoyo is all grown up (Etaix again) and a favorite in the troupe.  But he has a yearning of his own: to restore his father’s majestic estate to its former glory.  He leaves the circus, and the girl he loves (Claudine Auger), to pursue his quest.  But at what cost to his humanity?

There are two words I use a lot (too often, probably) to describe movies I love: “delightful” and “charming”.  This movie ought to be more delightful and charming.  It’s pleasant and has a sweetness to it.  The gags are all at least decent, some of them inventive and some eliciting laughter.  There are a few unusual touches, like the way the film begins as a silent movie and enters the sound era, or the fantastic shot of Auger departing the estate directly into the circus ring.

But its charms didn’t charm me, its delights didn’t delight me.  It felt too aimless and neither of the characters that Etaix plays are particularly strong.  The movie wanders around too much… here a potshot at television, here a satire of the idle rich, here a random sight gag, here a moment of poignancy that doesn’t quite feel earned.  There’s even a fleeting homage to The Great Dictator with a Hitler who dresses up as Chaplin.  But the gags aren’t held together with any glue, and Yoyo comes off too much like a blank slate.  The love story is underdeveloped, as is his obsessive drive to rebuild the estate.

Etaix is a funny performer with some terrific ideas for physical comedy.  But this feature needs some tightening up to become something I could truly connect with.  Rating: Good (71)

IMDb
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