Retro Review – OSS 117: Lost in Rio

This time out, OSS 117 (Jean Dujardin) has to reclaim microfilm from former Nazi’s that contain sensitive information about French officials. OSS 117 is teamed up with an Israeli soldier, Dolores (Louise Monot), who wishes to capture Von Zimmel (Rudiger Vogler) alive to answer for his crimes.

The good news is that OSS 117 has not changed much from his first outing in the hands of director Michel Hazanavicus. Jean Dujardin still manages to play the character as a great combination of arrogant and charming. 117 has learned something from his experiences in Egypt, however, and for the first time, apologises for offending those around him with his closed minded and archaic views. He is still cynical of religion and overly ‘French’, but this is why the character works. Once again, Dujardin is a mix of arrogant, misogynistic innocence, and the fact that he does not understand English only adds to this. In the first film OSS 117’s handicap was his love for his friend; this time it is the memory of a failed trapeze act that killed his friend that holds him back. This is a touch of brilliance that allows Dujardin to overact and throw in some comedic melodrama.

Sadly, Louise Monot is no Berenice Bejo. She is fine in the role of Dolores and has a good back and forth with Dujardin – every time one of them tries to apologise to the other they only manage to annoy themselves more – but she lacks the charm of Bejo and, at times, comes off as rude rather than impatient. However, her costumes are fantastic and she is more than able for the arrogant OSS 117.

The Nazis are back and, in a touch of brilliance, they so not want to set up the Fourth Reich, but the Fifth. Vogler has a great speech as Von Zimmel, where he tells his friends that he longs for a ‘less understanding and more intolerant world’, much to their delight. OSS 117 also has to deal with the advent of the Flower Power generation, and their long hair and desire to change the world is something that he cannot understand.

With Lost in Rio, Michel Hazanavicus has brought a fantastic and loving homage back to our screens. This incarnation of OSS 117 is the perfect spy spoof as the film is not too over the top, and allows the character and situations to be silly, but not too silly. Dujardin is funny and charming; he completely goes with the character and has fun doing it, which is what makes the film work so well. The lack of Berenice Bejo is felt throughout the film; Louise Monot feels like a watered down version of Bejo’s character in the first film, and she does not have as strong a character arc has her predecessor.

Lost in Rio is a strong follow up to Hazanavicius and Dujardin’s first outing together, even though the film misses Berenice Bejo the Nazi story is brilliantly and hilariously realised with flashbacks and identical scenes from past and present. There is also a great scene involving hippies and LSD, which is best viewed with little prior knowledge. OSS 117: Lost in Rio is a lot of fun and proves that Cairo, Nest of Spies was not just a fluke; the combination of Hazanavicus, Dujardin and composer Ludovic Bource is a winning one.

Rating: 3.5/5

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