Review: so much going on in See You Up There

Albert Dupontel and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart in <i>See You Up There</i>.
Albert Dupontel and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart in See You Up There.

WAR, comedy, tragedy and homemade theatrical masks – there is quite a mix of things going on in See You Up There.

While war and tragedy go hand in hand, it is the comedy and elaborately designed masks that may cause audiences to raise their eyebrows, but to his credit director and star Albert Dupontel makes it a smooth ride.

While fighting in the trenches during World War I, Albert Maillard (Dupontel) is saved by his comrade Edouard Pericourt (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) from being buried alive.

Soon after, Edouard’s face is horribly disfigured by a nearby blast, leaving him without a bottom jaw.

Feeling indebted, Albert destroys Edouard’s medical records, gets him out of hospital, tells his family he died in battle and looks after him in secret, injecting him with morphine he steals from other war veterans.

Edouard passes the time by creating masks for himself and he and Albert hatch a money-making plot.

Thrown into the story, which just gets wackier, is the gleefully evil and corrupt Captain Pradelle (Laurent Lafitte), who set this all in motion back in the trenches.

See You Up There is a curious exercise in mixed tones and is an example of how to mostly get it right.

The beginning is Saving Private Ryan levels of war-related carnage and the subsequent scenes of Edouard’s recovery in the hospital are harrowing, suggesting a straightforward, no holds barred drama about the impacts of battle.

Before long, it slides into comedic territory as amusing plot twists develop and farce ensues before shifting into poetic tragedy again before the credits roll.

See You Up There screens as part of the French Film festival, which runs from March 14 to April 4.

See You Up There (M)
Directed by: Albert Dupontel
Starring: Albert Dupontel, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Laurent Lafitte
Four stars