Nicky Larson and Cupid’s Perfume: Philippe Lacheau Fears No One.

When Philippe Lacheau announced that he was adapting the cult Club Dorothée cartoon Nicky Larson he was met with an outcry from fans, including the author of these lines. It must be said that manga adaptations have rarely – if ever – left us with good memories. But the director/writer/actor stood up to the critics. Right?

We must understand our scepticism. We are as attached to Nicky Larson and Laura’s hammer blows as we are to City Hunter, the original manga by Tsukasa Hojo, and its famous “cuckoo” (the real ones will understand). To touch this monument of our youth – which we always read or re-read with pleasure – was to take the risk of seeing a character dear to us massacred on the big screen Jackie Chan had done it before, and the idea of reliving such a disappointment did not particularly excite us, especially if the culprit was a fellow countryman.

Another source of mistrust is the Fifi Band in the lead roles. One point needs to be clarified here: we appreciate Philippe Lacheau, Élodie Fontan, Tarek Boudali and Julien Arruti, who have the merit of refreshing French comedy a little despite uneven and, in certain aspects, questionable productions. They have an enormous amount of sympathy.

Except that when we imagine the ace of the trigger, “Fifi” is clearly not our first choice to embody it and the first visuals didn’t reassure us. We feared that this Perfume of Cupid was just an opportunity for the troop to have a little egocentric trip and make us pay the price of the ticket. Feeling quickly reinforced by the first trailer and the introduction of Boudali and Arruti as added characters.

Nicky Larson to the end of the Magnum

The reason we’re talking to you about all this is because despite all our apprehension when we discovered the film, we have to face the fact that we came out of the theatre with a smile on our face. Philippe Lacheau has said it over and over again: he adapted Nicky Larson and not City Hunter, but make no mistake about it, he knows both as well as anyone else. There is a deep respect for the work (or works) and, beyond the costumes, we appreciate to find all the characteristics of our heroes.

Contrary to the Japanese adaptations, the director does not make the mistake of a mimicking his drawn model and avoids falling into the dusty exaggeration of reactions. Which doesn’t stop Nicky from being as obsessed as expected, quite the contrary.

We also applaud the mischievous way in which the Babysitting dad was able to stage the most whimsical elements of the original material, notably the famous club (no, we won’t spoil it), preserving the clownish without sacrificing realism. You can sense that the gang leader has worked on his subject and has taken care not to forget anything, moving from the strong wink to the more discreet wink that is sometimes found in the background. More than his will to be as faithful as possible, it is through his sincere and generous love for Nicky Larson that Philippe Lacheau manages to make our fan heart beat.

A desire to please that does not prevent some mistakes. We have to admit that our fear was justified and “Fifi” does not always live up to its role. Despite the muscles, it lacks credibility and naturalness when Nicky has to justify his status as a professional killer, as if he didn’t really feel comfortable with this side of the character. It is therefore not surprising to see him avoid using it as much as possible. On the other hand, no worries about Élodie Fontan, perfect in volcanic Laura.

Club Dorothée forever

You don’t have to be a Nicky Larson fan to enjoy this Cupid’s Perfume. Far from the sterile comedies that we are served a little too much in France, the humour of Bande à Fifi is not lacking in punch when it comes to daring, while avoiding falling into the gravelly. We take this opportunity to point out that if the team has always tended to like the little homophobic joke, it is, here, never gratuitous, and sticks to the character who, we remind you, hates men. Indispensable, maybe not, logical, undeniably.

And then there is the greedy use of elements of our daily life to make us laugh through slogans, quotations, references placed here and there. The director and co-screenwriter (with his brother) never seems to run out of ideas and manages to use his sense of writing and framing with equal efficiency to make us laugh. At a frantic pace, something is constantly happening or being said on the screen.

You can say what you want, Philippe Lacheau puts his heart and energy into his work. An over-excitement that gives, at times, to his film a little bit disturbing at first. But considering the whole, one ends up thinking that even the lack of correctness of the actors’ acting that scuppers a few sequences would finally be voluntary. We’ve saved the best for last, because no Nicky Larson without… Club Dorotéia! La Bande à Fifi was (like us) fed to the program of our national Doro – who obviously has the right to her cameo – and we must admit that she had a blast giving us various and varied winks all along to the cartoons and other iconic sitcoms.

Without giving you examples, just so you don’t spoil the fun, just know that we have some hilarious, subtle, visuals, and diverted ones… and they hit the bull’s eye every time! Nicky Larson and the Perfume of Cupid is a rich feature film a generational work that can be appreciated on different levels, but with the same pleasure, whether he is guilty or not.




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