OSS 117 From Africa With Love: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2022
If you’ve not managed to catch a film at the Alliance Française – French Film Festival yet – there is still time, but you’ll need to hurry! This year is one of the most diverse programs I can remember. There really is a film for everyone.
In the quirky comedy category is OSS 117 From Africa With Love, specifically the secret agent spy spoof.
It stars Oscar winner (Best Actor for The Artist in 2012) and all-round wonderful actor Jean Dujardin as the suave but clueless Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath alias agent OSS 177.
This is the third OSS 117 film, and while not as funny as the first two, is still entertaining.
These OSS 117 films are like a French version of Get Smart or Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English.
There’s even a book written about this particular French agent – The Philosophy of OSS 117– that teases out aspects of his racist, sexist, and clueless agent and how that works comedically.
The film itself also does this, with the introduction of a new smarter younger breed of agent, OSS 1001, played by Pierre Niney (who is also the younger breed of French actor starring in Goliath in this year’s festival, and also in Yves Saint-Laurent).
The new agent is given the latest assignment in Africa, rather than the undiplomatic and racist OSS 117. The mission is to squash the increasingly powerful insurgents who are a threat to the current French preferred regime. And OSS 117 – he is relegated downstairs to data entry.
But when OSS 1001 goes missing, OSS 117 is brought back into action to mount a rescue and complete the mission.
On the flight to Africa, OSS 117 prepares himself by reading Tin Tin Goes to Africa.
Without giving too much away, when the two pair up in Africa, the younger colleague highlights the older agent’s flaws, but also his humanity.
This film tries to make fun of a previously openly sexist and racist era but doesn’t quite make it. But the acting is great, there’s a bit of spy fighting action, and it’s fun to watch.
As a side note, French resistance fighter Jean Bruce wrote the character of OSS 117 a few years before Ian Fleming’s James Bond.
As the 2022 Alliance Francaise Film Festival draws to a close – there are still a few more opportunities to immerse yourself! Have you been enjoying this years festival?