Laughing out loud at a movie hardly comes naturally to me. True, there is the uncomfortable pretense of being around other people or sitting in a rather large dark and ominous theater, but more often than not the film is simply void of the flare needed to expel any sort of my audible giggles. Basically, I’m a hard man to make giggle. If by now you haven’t seen through my facade of tricky structure and strong introduction, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies was one of those rare films that caused belly-aching rumblings and wall-bouncing laughter.
Truth be told, I still haven’t seen The Artist – that silent black and white film that won a bunch of Oscars (not to be confused with Wings, the 1927 classic) – which as you will see, refrains my use of futuristic plaudits for the collaborating team of Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin. Not to worry, present praises are coming your way.
My first knowledge of this film existing goes back a few years ago while doing research, I remember thinking French and comedy were hardly the best of pairs, so as any American (or really any person of any nationality) would, I dismissed it. But as fate would have it, I recently delved into a Spy-themed obsession and a local video store had a huge closeout sale. One thing led to another and this French spy spoof found itself coming home with me.
OSS 117 follows nearly adequate French secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (or Agent OSS 117) as he uncovers the mystery behind the death of his fellow agent and friend Jack Jefferson in the dangerous city of Cairo. Set in 1955, OSS 117’s sparse understanding of different cultures and religion plays far from controversial, but rather in the ball park of fitting and dare I say laughable. His ignorance perfects the role, clearly setting the pace for the entirety of the film, making way for what I can only call “comic gold.”
Jean Dujardin’s face was tailor-made for this role. His suave exterior and advanced use of facial features blended together quite nicely making OSS 117 what it is, a beautiful Connery-era Bond parody. Michel Hazanavicius’s direction carried this specific parody style to the finish line by playing up many accepted spy themed stereotypes with the use of creative dialogue over convincing camerawork. Simply put, he somehow made his film original, which after thinking about it, only slightly makes sense…
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006) directed by Michel Hazanavicius