‘Santa Claus is a Louse’: Christmas comedy
Jean-Marie Poiré's controversial comic 'Santa Claus is a Louse' (Le Pere noel est une ordure) which highlights the hypocrisies during the Christmas period will be screened at 3..00 pm on Tuesday and 6.30 pm on Wednesday Alliance Francais.
Directed by Jean-Marie Poiré, the film was based on a successful stage play which was written and performed by that remarkable team of comic performers, L'Équipe du Splendid, most of whom appear in this film and many of whom have since gone on to become mega-celebrities in France. They include Anémone, Josiane Balasko, Marie-Anne Chazel, Christian Clavier and Gérard Jugnot.
One Christmas Eve, the staff of "SOS Détresse", a Paris-based social service team, have their hands full. Unaware that their colleague Madame Musquin is trapped in the elevator, Pierre and Thérèse man the phones and try to console the capital's depressed and distressed.
An obviously pregnant woman, Zézette, suddenly arrives at their office, demanding sanctuary from her violent husband, Félix, who is close behind her. Pierre and Thérèse eventually manage to subdue Félix - who is still dressed in his working clothes as street Father Christmas - and he ends up in hospital.
Pierre then receives a personal visit from one of his clients, Katia, a manic transvestite who thinks he/she has found Mr Right. The series of "catastrophes" reach its climax when Félix appears unexpectedly, brandishing a gun. In the ensuing crisis, Katia is nearly crippled, Pierre makes an honest woman of Thérèse, a lift repairman is killed, and Félix and Zézette devise an ingenious method for disposing of a dead body...
The film is trying to point out - possibly - the hypocrises which are rife in our society, especially during the Christmas season. The cynicism and ineptness of a Samaritan-like social service team reflects a world where people respond to the misfortune of others mechanically, without compassion or commitment. The glitzy fairytale like opening to the film soon fades away to expose the grim reality of life which is lived by those on the margin - financial insecurity, domestic violence, personal disorders and worse.