- The new Claude Lelouch film, The Parisians, is a catastrophic critical and box office bomb. But will free tickets lure in recalcitrant moviegoers? Lelouch’s fellow veteran Philippe de Broca thinks that’s a bad idea.
A critical & box office debacle, the new Claude Lelouch film The Parisians leads to drastic measures
Quite a bit (to put it mildly) less successful than Alien vs. Predator, Exorcist: The Beginning, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse – or just about any other movie out there. That has been the fate of the new Claude Lelouch film: The Parisians / Le genre humain – 1ère partie: Les Parisiens (literally, “The Human Race – 1st Part: The Parisians”).
“For years and years the critics have attacked my films, and for years and years the public has come to my rescue,” the Bolero and A Man and a Woman filmmaker recently affirmed, explaining why he has offered to show The Parisians free of charge.
Massacred by French critics, The Parisians – unlike widely ridiculed fare like the three English-language titles mentioned further up – lured a mere 16,653 ticket-buyers to the cinéma on opening night, Sept. 15. The movie stars Mathilde Seigner (Emmanuelle Seigner’s sister), Maïwenn, and Arielle Dombasle.
From one filmmaking veteran to another: Don’t do it
“I advise Lelouch against doing this. When a film is a flop, you can’t do much about it,” chimed in Lelouch’s contemporaneous filmmaker Philippe de Broca (That Man from Rio, The Man from Acapulco), speaking from experience.
Almost four decades ago, de Broca held free screenings of his poorly received 1966 fantasy King of Hearts / Le roi de coeur – to no avail, despite a cast that included Alan Bates, Geneviève Bujold, Micheline Presle, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Serrault, and Adolfo Celi.
Coincidentally, Lelouch’s biggest international hit, the romantic drama A Man and a Woman / Un homme et une femme, was released the same year as King of Hearts, which, ironically, is now considered a classic in some quarters.
So perhaps there’s hope for The Parisians sometime in the 2040s.
Oscar winner Claude Lelouch
It should be noted that Claude Lelouch took home the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award (shared with Les Parisiens co-writer Pierre Uytterhoeven) for A Man and a Woman – one of the rare non-English-language releases to have won an Oscar in the writing categories.
Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Best Actress Oscar nominee Anouk Aimée, A Man and a Woman also earned Lelouch a Best Director nod. He lost to Fred Zinnemann for that year’s Best Picture, the well-regarded period drama A Man for All Seasons; Aimée, for her part, lost to Elizabeth Taylor for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
But there were victories as well: A Man and a Woman won both the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or.
“New Claude Lelouch Film” endnotes
Maïwenn The Parisians image: Les Films 13.
“New Claude Lelouch Film Leads to Desperate Measures” last updated in February 2023.