The Big Hit
(Un Triomphe), by Emmanuel Courcol
What if you went to see a play, and the actors, barely remembering their lines, started laughing amongst themselves at the absurdity of the play they were performing? When the improbable company of actors, made up of inmates, performs Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, the public laughs with them. It is a triumph.
Etienne (Kad Merad), the failing actor who put together the play, is shocked but honoured. Indeed, this proves wrong all the people who told him that Samuel Beckett’s play is simply too high-brow for prisoners to grasp and present correctly. But Etienne knows that the inmates will feel, more than the average person, the absurdity in Waiting for Godot. He knows because they asked him, tired of playing fables with moral lessons which are hammered into their heads, if there are any fables about something relatable to their lives. Like waiting. Waiting to be let out of their cell to be able to do anything. Waiting for their family to come visit, if they have any. Waiting to get out of prison.
The film intimately shows the characters’ inner struggles and developments. After the applause, it’s back to reality and to the prison, with the gifts from the adoring public confiscated through humiliating searches. How will these improbable stars deal with the success they encounter on stage?
The Big Hit doesn’t make angels out of criminals, showing them complexly. You are fooled into a false sense of security by a story which keeps on surprising. It being inspired by true events makes it all the more interesting.