Fans of Gerard Depardieu will love this improbable but appealing tale of a troubled young man who transforms his life through an unlikely friendship with a group of eccentric old-timers.
French comedian Kev Adams plays the role of Milann, an orphan who has never liked old people.
When a court sentences him to do 300 hours community service in a retirement home he says he would rather go to jail.
He is resentful and impatient when he arrives at the home. He doesn’t like the work, the residents or the manager, and he in turn is generally disliked.
It is not until he gets beaten up by some thugs over an unpaid debt that the residents, led by retired boxer Lino (Depardieu), decide to take him in hand.
One of the women patches him up and tells the others, “He’s an orphan, like us – we must help him.”
Lino starts with some boxing lessons, telling Milann his worst problem is fear.
“All super-heroes have their dark moments,” he tells Milann, who is a video game addict.
After a week or two of training, Milann suddenly has the strength and skill to demolish the next couple of toughs who attack him.
He’s never been much of a reader, but he get so absorbed with a book of Moliere’s plays that soon he and another of the residents – a retired drama teacher – are impressing the others with an impromptu performance.
As he gets to know the oldies, he warms to their idiosyncrasies and even prefers their company to his video games.
By the time his 300 hours’ service is up, Milann is a changed man. He’s come to respect the wisdom and humour of the old-timers, and he’s developed a new self-confidence.
There’s a twist in the tale when Milann discovers the manager of the retirement home, Daniel Ferrand (Antoine Dulery), is cheating the residents, and he is determined to help them.
Ferrand has chosen his people carefully – none of them have children or relatives to care about them, and he is keeping them locked up as virtual prisoners. The food is shocking, and a scary head of security (Ludovic Berthillot), makes sure they cannot leave the home.
There are a series of implausible adventures as Milann sets out to rescue the residents and get them to a safe haven.
Though the plot is far-fetched, to say the least, this is a warm-hearted and happy film which had most of the preview audience leaving with smiles on their faces.
The veteran French actors, including Depardieu, Daniel Prevost as the forgetful Alfred, Jean-Luc Bideau, Liliane Rovere and Marte Villalonga, make the most of the film’s comic opportunities.
Kev Adams also wrote the script and produced the film, which was directed by Thomas Gilou.
The film is in French with English subtitles.
The Villa is screening at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX and the Windsor Cinema.
Watch the trailer…