Rumba (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/07/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 77 mins

Likeable, offbeat and frequently very funny Franco-Belgian comedy, though its Jacques Tati-style buffoonery occasionally misfires and might prove too whimsical for some tastes.

What's it all about?
Filmmakers Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy follow up their 2005 festival hit L'Iceberg with Rumba, an offbeat, near-silent comedy about severely unlucky teachers Fiona (Gordon) and Dom (Abel), whose lives veer from catastrophe to catastrophe after they win a dancing competition. Their run of bad luck begins when they swerve to avoid lonely, suicidal Gerard (Philippe Martz) on a country road and end up crashing the car, leading to Fiona being fitted for a wooden leg and Dom with a brain condition that affects his memory.

Dom’s absent-mindedness and Fiona's clumsiness quickly get them fired from their teaching jobs, but things go from bad to worse when Fiona's leg catches fire and they accidentally burn their house down. Then Dom goes to the shop for some chocolate croissants and doesn't come back, leading Fiona to search for him.

The Good
As with L'Iceberg, Abel, Gordon and Romy have a distinctive visual style that includes bright colours, simple sets and a resolutely static camera so that each scene could easily be a scene in a play. There's also minimal dialogue, with the filmmakers deliberately attempting to recreate the silent comedy of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati.

To that end, there are several hysterically funny set-pieces, most notably: the extended leg-on-fire sequence; some amusing back-projection work; a scene where Fiona's dress unravels and envelops several passers-by; and Fiona trying to keep hold of her crutches, chalk and books in class. Similarly, the dancing sequences are beautifully done, particularly a fantasy scene where Fiona and Dom's shadows leave their bodies and dance a wistful routine together.

The Bad
That said, not all the comedy works and Gordon is a noticeably better actor than Abel. Similarly, though it would be nice to say that at 77 minutes, the film doesn't wear out its welcome, it wouldn't be exactly true.

Worth seeing?
Rumba a charmingly offbeat, frequently funny comedy, but it occasionally drags and isn't quite as emotionally satisfying as you hope it'll be.

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Content updated: 17/10/2017 00:45

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