Jacky in the Kingdom of Women, "a romantic comedy that throws appearances into question"
In the republic of Bubunne, it’s the women who hold power and go to war, while the men wear the veil and do the housework. Jacky has the same fantasy as all the bachelors in the country: marry the Colonel and have lots of daughters with her. But when a great ball is organised to find her a husband, things get a lot worse for Jacky: abused by his step-family, he sees his dream gradually slip away. Released on French screens in early 2014, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women by Franco-Syrian Riad Sattouf will be available on VoD in Europe at the start of September in the Comedies à la Carte collection. A look back at some of the principal elements of this politically incorrect comedy
Jacky, from Pascal Brutal to Cinderella
Jacky in the Kingdom of Women is based on “a short story published in 2005 in my comic book series Pascal Brutal (whose hero is a macho man), and on Cinderella”, the director confided. “Like all children, I wondered: why doesn't Cinderella rebel against her family, which mistreats her? Why, when she finally runs away, does she still try to go to the ball like everyone else? Why are there so many girls at the disposal of one sole Prince Charming? When I asked these questions, I was told: because that's the way life is. So I wanted to make my own version of Cinderella”.
A 5 star cast
Several big stars of the French screen take part in the film: beside rising star Vincent Lacoste in the title role of Jacky, appear Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac) and director Michel Hazanavicius (Oscar winning film The Artist), as well as Noémie Lvosvky, Anémone, Didier Bourdon and Valérie Bonneton (who appeared in Supercondriaque by Dany Boon, on VoD in the Comedies à la Carte collection in 2015).
"How would our world seem to us if we switched the roles?"
This is the question which Sattouf asks of himself in the film, where the men, who are sensitive and gentle, stay at home and cover themselves up while the women give the orders and fantasize about them, regarding them as sex objects. “In my film, the "veilery" is no different from a dress”, the director explains. “It separates the sexes and makes them uniform. This is not specific to the Muslim world! It corresponds to the social and legal organization of human relationships found all over the world. It is called the patriarchy, the authority of men over women. This is the subject of my film”. The director continues: “When I came up with the idea of veiling the characters, the aim was to minimise their virility. The costume renders the man submissive. They are forced to change their gestures, to bend. And their faces stick out so much, it really transforms their personality.
A filmic world
Jacky in the Kingdom of Women is truly a filmic world of its own, where the matriarchal dictatorship is depicted in various ways, including costumes, language, alphabet and scenery. “Important and authoritative words are feminized. It was important to show how sexual domination operates via language. I also wanted a specific alphabet. The Bubunne alphabet is marked by uniformity, violence, a certain ambiance”, the director says, adding that “I decided to shoot in Georgia because we needed realistic sets. I wanted things to look as genuine as possible. The country has many vestiges of communism right in the middle of the countryside. Ideally, I'd like to have shot the film in North Korea.
Riad Sattouf, a man of many talents
Jacky in the Kingdom of Women is Riad Sattouf’s second feature film after The French Kissers (2009 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, 2010 Cesar for Best First Feature Film). However the screenwriter/director is primarily a comic book author who has received much praise from both public and critics. His autobiographical series The Arab of the Future won the Golden Wildcat at the 2015 Angoulême Comics Festival.
Jacky in the Kingdom of Women - trailer:
02 September 2016, by Cineuropa