World Trade Center 9/11 joke removed from Jean Dujardin sex comedy 'The Players'
“Jean Dujardin, already Oscared, can now breathe again: his little secret was kept to the very end,” writes Emmanuel Berretta in the French magazine Le Point. The “little secret” in question is a brief scene initially found in – but later cut from – the final release print of Dujardin's comedy The Players / Les infidèles (literally, “The Unfaithful Ones”), which opened in France on Feb. 29.
Consisting of six sketches – or rather, short films – about male infidelity and men's ravenous sexual appetite, The Players stars Dujardin, also one of the film's producers, and Gilles Lellouche as two sex animals either enjoying extra-marital affairs or pursuing women (or whoever is available) of various ages, sizes, and shapes.
Irreverently subversive or tastelessly insensitive joke?
According to Berretta, Jean Dujardin was afraid that a brief moment in The Players might have seriously harmed his chances of taking home the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as a fading Douglas Fairbanks/John Gilbert-like silent film star in Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist.
In one of The Players' segments, Dujardin is seen as an unfaithful husband visiting New York City. Though supposed to be at the office, his character is actually spending his time in the company of a hotel chambermaid – echoes of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn all-around fiasco?
Dujardin's businessman then gets a call from his wife and starts telling her a few tall tales. While he's on the phone, the camera shows the bay window behind him. As Dujardin is reassuring his wife, “Yes, yes, my darling, everything is fine!” a plane hits one of the World Trade Center towers.
According to Berretta, the scene is “hilarious,” but Dujardin and his “co-producer friends” (brother Marc Dujardin, Éric Hannezo, Guillaume Lacroix) opted not to risk offending American sensibilities, including those of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters, at this crucial juncture in Dujardin's international career.
Oscar non-controversy: Banned 'The Players' posters
This is the second issue Jean Dujardin has had to deal with regarding The Players. About two weeks ago, some deemed the film's posters too suggestive, which led France's ad regulatory board to request that they be taken down. At that time, those in the U.S. media with little to do wondered whether L'Affaire Infidèles might damage Dujardin's chances to take home the Oscar. Obviously, it did no such thing.
Now, whether much – or any – harm would have come of this second Infidèles issue is unclear. Back in early 1978, for instance, Vanessa Redgrave's highly controversial pro-Palestinian remarks didn't prevent her from winning the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance in Fred Zinnemann's Julia. Much like George C. Scott's assertion that he would refuse the Best Actor Oscar didn't prevent him from winning in early 1971 for Franklin J. Schaffner's Patton.
Marion Cotillard vs. the official story
In his piece, Berretta also mentions Marion Cotillard, who angered some after telling Paris Première that she questioned the official story about the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Some publicity-hungry Christian pastor may have demanded that the Academy take back Cotillard's Best Actress Academy Award for Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose, but the actress not only has kept her Oscar statuette but she continues to be cast in major Hollywood motion pictures, e.g., Rob Marshall's Nine, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, Christopher Nolan's Inception and his upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.
'The Players / Les infidèles' trailer with Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche.
'The Players' movie review: Better than average 'fling with unfaithfulness'
As per The Hollywood Reporter, which recently reviewed The Players, the latest Jean Dujardin comedy “is only as sustainable as its outlandish premise, and it eventually plays out like only an above-average addition to French cinema's long-standing fling with unfaithfulness.”
Also in the cast are Marion Cotillard's companion Guillaume Canet, Cotillard's cousin Laurent Cotillard, Sandrine Kiberlain, Mathilda May, and Dujardin's real-life wife Alexandra Lamy.
From what I've read, The Players offers an audacious look at sexual relationships, including explicit sex scenes – or rather, what passes for explicit sex in mainstream movies. On the downside, those commenting on the film, whether praising it or criticizing it, also make it sound relentlessly moralistic and appallingly misandrist. But then again, we all know women never cheat or lust after men (or other women, or both), so perhaps The Players has a point.
Anyhow, considering Jean Dujardin's widely publicized Oscar victory; the promise of a racy comedy starring two popular, good-looking actors; and the (fabricated?) scandal about the “salacious” posters, I'd be very surprised if The Players doesn't turn out to be a major hit.
Ah, Berretta adds that The Players' World Trade Center bit will quite possibly become available when the film is released on DVD. If so, here's hoping Jean Dujardin will provide an audio commentary explaining in detail the actual reasons for the removal of that scene.
Image of Gilles Lellouche and Jean Dujardin in The Players / Les infidèles poster: Mars Films.
The Players / Les infidèles trailer: Mars Films.