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Le Paltoquet, a typical whodunit, is an interesting lesson in nihilism. First of all, the characters have no names. They are referred to as 'the journalist' or 'the doctor'. Secondly, there is no real set. Sure, there is a hall, there are chairs, tables and a bar, but that's all. There is nothing to hide the fact that it is not a real bar but a studio. This brings Le Paltoquet as close as possible to a filmed stage version.
It reminds me of Dogville, but I enjoyed it a lot more. These actors have to compensate for the emptiness of the sets with their charm. The best part is that all kinds of famous French actors, Daniel Auteuil, Michel Piccoli, Jean Yann, Jeanne Moreau and Fanny Ardant were likely enjoying this experiment. The famous actors in Dogville probably did that as well, but somehow that movie lacked cheerful anarchism and gave me the feeling that most of the actors probably played in that film to boost their resumes.
I treasure the bizarre moments when Piccoli presses a button and puts everything on hold. Just as the bartender provides the thrilling music himself by turning on a pick-up and pointing towards the door where the commissioner comes bursting through. The film does indeed have some shortcomings, the dialogue is not that sparkling, and the characters remain flat, but simply getting a experimental film made like this was a great feat.
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