The Actor and the Wrestler

Robust

Director: Constance Meyer

Cast: Gerard Depardieu, Deborah Lukumena, Lucas Mortier

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

This film is in French with English subtitles

Screened virtually at the 2021 European Film Festival

Oscar nominee for Cyrano de Bergerac Gerard Depardieu returned to the 2021 Cannes Film Festival with a self-reflexive film entitled Robust also starring an amazing Deborah Lukumena as Aissa a trained wrestler who takes on the rather strange job of protecting a famous actor past his prime Georges.

Gerard Depardieu as aging actor Georges

Georges is wonderfully played by the bad boy of French cinema Gerard Depardieu (The Life of Pi, The Secret Agent, La Vie en Rose), a character that is larger than life and is essentially a spoilt and needy actor who constantly requires attention and someone to assuage his prickly ego.

A fretful hypochondriac, Georges is preparing for a new role in a 19th century period film in which he is required to play a French land owner who is timid, vanquished and lost. And he must learn fencing.

Yet like all aging film stars, Georges who lives in a plush apartment in Paris is constantly misbehaving until he gets assigned a new protector the aspiring female wrestler Aissa who takes none of his nonsense or his masculine foibles.

Deborah Lukumena as Aissa

Aissa is trying to make a life for herself in Paris as she casually dates her co-worker the vacuous Eddy played by Lucas Mortier who is really using Aissa for sex.

Directed by Constance Meyer, Robust is essentially a slow moving study of two completely opposite characters who find an unlikely connection and form a bond. Aissa is not bothered by Georges supposed fame, while Georges feels secure knowing that Aissa is available even when he frequently disappears or goes off the rails.

Robust is not a dazzling film, but a wonderful character study of two fascinating people at the opposite end of their lives. Aissa is just starting out as a body guard and protector while Georges is constantly fretting over his fading stardom, even though he takes his wealth and privilege for granted, falling off motorbikes and getting inebriated.

The best scene in the film is when Georges gate crashes Aissa and Eddy’s romantic dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the 20th arrondisement of Paris and the young Eddy does not take to the cantankerous actor who is oblivious to how he burdens other people with his demands.

Robust gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is an enjoyable and light hearted French film and viewers will relish watching the delightful Depardieu on the screen again.

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