A case of mistaken identity propels this vaguely offensive ethnic comedy about life in Paris' garment district. Richard Anconina stars as Eddie Vuibert, a down-on-his-luck schmuck who passes himself off as Jewish ("Vuibert is like Weber," he bluffs) and gets a job in a textile warehouse run by Tunisian Jews. Working his way up through the backstabbing, purse-string-clenching world of the salesmen, he discovers lots of allegedly sidesplitting jokes about religion, North African Jewish identity, and observing the Sabbath.
Aptly for a film that sent the box office tills ringing wildly in France, Would I Lie To You? spends most of its running time convinced that money talks. It's a film obsessed with bling-bling lifestyles, yet the glitz and the glamour seem strangely dated: orange suits and pink shirts, over-polished Rolls Royces, leopard print upholstery. First released in France in 1997 - where it spawned a sequel, Would I Lie To You 2? (2000) - this is a movie that's hung around well past its sell-by-date.
"LAUGHS BUILT ON DUBIOUS STEREOTYPES"
Hanging out in naff nightclubs full of velvet-lined VIP booths, the characters in director Thomas Gilou's mercantile comedy are wheeler-dealer wide boys with a taste for fast cars, Swedish supermodels, and expensive bottles of champagne. Welcoming Eddie into their philandering, cash-splashing world, they quickly teach him the rules of the game - which seem to involve cheating everyone before they get a chance to cheat you first.
Outmoded fashions aside, there's little that's memorable about Eddie's rise from penniless schmuck to successful entrepreneur. Like that other Gallic comedy hit Taxi, Would I Lie To You? builds its (occasional) laughs on a series of dubious stereotypes. Worse still, everyone here is taught a lesson by Eddie's more measured approach to life and business as he repays his Jewish mentor by gazumping his garment company and running off with his daughter after insulting the local rabbi. What kind of happy ending is that?
In French with English subtitles.