Some ten years ago, my partner Helen and I were wandering around the streets of Paris, just off the Gare du Nord where we were staying, when I spotted a movie poster on a lamppost. The thing that caught my eye was the motorcycle the guy in the poster was riding – a Münch Mammoth, which was probably why the movie was simply called Mammuth. Now, Münch Mammoths are a rarity at the best of times, but as a focal point of a new movie? This I had to see. Back home, I eventually ordered the DVD, but I’m ashamed to say it sat on the shelf unopened until this past month when the Münch Mammoth road test from Klaus Nennewitz arrived to trigger the memory banks.
In this French comedy (premiered in 2010), Gérard Depardieu (who, apparently is an acclaimed French actor) plays Serge Piladosse, an overweight, long-haired factory worker who hits retirement age and discovers he has to provide paperwork from all his previous employers before being entitled to his pension. With his battered old car off the road and his wife in panic mode about their dire financial position, Serge is forced to retrieve his classic Münch Mammoth from under dust covers in his garage before he can head out on a road trip to seek out previous employers. It turns out to be a mad journey as he confronts his past, which is haunted by a girl he once dated who appears to have died in a motorcycle accident.
Serge meets a catalogue of strange people on his way: an overly aggressive bouncer in a night lub, a hooker who robs him of his mobile phone and money, a clever-dick treasure hunter on a beach, and a hippy-freak niece who introduces him to her dope-smoking pals. Serge rediscovers himself in the process in a film that is a mix of funny and sad in places, but downright weird in others. To be brutal, I soon realised that for me, the only real interest in this film is that Münch he’s riding, which looks awesome and has a great offbeat rumble at tickover, which transforms into the whirring four-cylinder noise you’d expect at speed.
It just goes to show you can’t judge a film by its poster (or DVD cover), but it did leave me thinking, now that the restrictions on us are being relaxed, it’s about time to retrieve one of my bikes from under the dust covers and get out in search of the good times I enjoyed in my past. I just hope I don’t encounter the madness that Serge experienced on his trip...