NEWS FROM PLANET MARS

— by Jeff Schultz

[Special dispatch from the 27th annual Tromsø Film Festival]

> This very funny portrait of a harried (to say the least) divorced dad and the accretion of mishaps, annoyances, insults, impositions and disaster with which he has to cope stars the wonderfully deadpan François Damiens, whose forbearance in the face of a psychotic attack (which severs his ear), outrageously impossible kids, multiplying unwanted houseguests, a terrorist escapade, and a yappy chihuahua that gets what it deserves, leads to an act of heroism (helped along by a little magical realism) and a happy ending.
> There are other fine performances from a large cast, especially Vincent Macaigne as the hatchet wielder who subsequently makes himself at home and young Tom Rivoire as the sullen son who comes to see, as do the rest, what a great guy his father really is.
> Other than at two American film festivals (Seattle and Philadelphia), MARS doesn’t seem to have a US release date. Which is a shame, because it’s a total crowd pleaser; all of its jokes “travel” well, its premise is totally relatable, and most of all, people here need to be introduced to Damiens’ dry wit.

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