Uneasy Riders Nationale 7
Born to be wild. Led by Jean-Louis and Rene (Thomassin and Gourmet), the patients fight for their right to party.
dir-scr Jean-Pierre Sinapi
with Nadia Kaci, Olivier Gourmet, Chantal Neuwirth, Lionel Abelanski, Julien Boisselier, Nadine Marcovici, Said Taghmaoui, Gerald Thomassin, Nicolas Lecuyot, Karine Leparquier, Jean-Claude Frissung, Isabelle Mazin
awards International Critics Prize (London 00), Audience Awards (Berlin 00, San Sebastien 00)
release UK 30.Mar.01
00/France 1h30
4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Like a Dogme film, Sinapi's compelling feature is so natural and authentic that we almost feel like voyeurs watching it. But a generous stream of humour--both viciously dark and warmly touching--keeps us fully engaged. We're in a home for the seriously disabled, where the patients are all more than a little bored as they watch life pass by along National Route 7 just outside the doors. Then the most abrasive patient (Gourmet) starts a chain of events that will change everyone forever--he asks the staff to get him a prostitute. The workers (Kaci, Neuwirth, Abelanski, Boisselier, et al) are caught off guard by this genuine request. And soon the other patients take up the cause, seeking dignity, quality of life and most of all a connection with the world.

The characters are so well written and played that each comes to life in a profoundly touching way. The cast is anchored by two fine central performances: Gourmet as the bitter yet ultimately sympathetic Rene, and Kaci as the nurse struggling to do the right thing for him, while her own personal life is more than a little confusing. Taghmaoui shines as a confused young man struggling not only with disability, but also his religious and sexual identity; and Thomassin steals the show as a red-mohawked biker who prowls the highway in his souped-up wheelchair. There are so many sharp, witty details in each situation and character that the ensemble cast works wonders, bringing out the serious themes in a natural, gentle way that is thoroughly effective--and increasingly funny. At times the story takes rather cliched twists, but mostly the film feels just a bit too real, like we're watching a particularly intimate documentary. This is due to a fearless honesty in both performances and casting, as well as Sinapi's remarkable use of digital video and natural lighting. A small gem well worth seeking out on the festival/art house circuit.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15 1.Mar.01

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"Top film! I saw this at the Disability Film Festival at the Stratford Picturehouse. I was really in it, it was funny. You see after working in a care home it felt for real (I think it was from an experience). The life in homes for the residents can somewhat not seem real, no-one asks to be there. Well written and the roles were so well played because people in homes are for real, take it from me I viewed this film with the eyes of someone who has worked in a home. I felt for all the cast, residents and staff, the things they have to deal with is far beyond what this crazy outside world can throw at us. Kaci shows how if you feel for a person you do what it takes even if your world isn't quite how you would want it. But whose is? Life's one big stage and you only get one performance. Makes you think the whole way through. This is a review from a nut who sits on wheels and does more than the average being. Top marks for the way the film was made, no need for special effects. The guy who must have been a biker (or wanted to be) does a top job of doing what I would do if I was him. We need more films like this. Well my ideas are going to be filmed sometime. Live well with what you got." --Mad Brad, Berkshire UK, 15.Apr.02.
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall