A bit of superheroism in the French audio-visual landscape. With “How I became a superhero”, Douglas Attal, son of producer Alain Attal, tackles the eponymous novel by Gérald Bronner for a heroic-detective trip.
Paris, in 2020. Two cops, Moreau (Pio Marmaï) et Schaltzmann (Vimala Pons) investigate the circulation of a mysterious substance, providing superpowers to those who lack them. In a society where, now, supermen are trivialized and live alongside normal citizens, Moreau’s origins and past hamper the progress of the investigation.
“How I became a superhero” embodies a new ambition, a welcome risk-taking …
“How I Became a Superhero” seems to intertwine a “leather cop” side to the Olivier Marchal with an Arte series typed “Ad Vitam”, or an American one like “Engrenages”. A hybridization of genres which makes it possible to lay a French-style foundation, before embracing the popular and dear to Marvel genre of superheroism. If it takes a little time to adapt, the film ends up taking. Douglas Attal gives flesh to his project. He managed to develop a marked psychological dimension, which others lacked, such as the disappointing “Black Widow”. The character of Pio Marmaï, casual and exhausted by his job, adopts a stunted investigator posture of abject sufficiency, when he faces his new partner, embodied by Vimala Pons. The French actress completes this rather refreshing duo for a French cinema in need of new faces.
© Shanna Besson / Warner Bros. France
Without being sparkling, “How I became a superhero” embodies a new ambition, a welcome risk-taking. Even if the subject does not breathe originality, it is fashionable to take advantage of a job well done and appreciate these aging heroes, taking the big American machines against the grain. Benoît Poelvoorde in super-costume, with Parkinson’s, or Callista (Leila Bekhti) turned back into an educator, the gang may not be as glamorous as the Avengers, but they have their own identity. This is the real world, and Douglas Attal is inspired by super-heroic codes to integrate an intimate and urban touch. Besides the choice to maintain a very “French” context, one of the nice surprises of the footage is Swann Arlaud (“Little Peasant”, “Grace to God”) in the role of an antagonist far from his usual compositions.
If it takes a little time to adapt, the film ends up taking …
A film that maybe smells already seen? Yes ; a plot that has nothing very folichon? for sure. But the paw of Douglas Attal and the mix of genres make it all refreshing, pleasant. The fiber of French thriller is nicely grafted to this revisiting of a theme which, although very American, is nowadays largely anchored in pop culture.
Since July 9 on Netflix.