Call it a dark farce, human comedy or wartime satire. But however you slice it, the ill-conceived morality tale "A Farewell to Fools" is a bust.
Set in the waning days of World War II, the movie involves a group of Romanian villagers attempting to trick the resident fool, Ipu (Gérard Depardieu in hyper-slob mode), into giving up his life in order to save theirs. Unfortunately, the script by Anusavan Salamanian, based on the novel by Titus Popovici (first filmed as 1972's "Then I Sentenced Them All to Death"), highlights so much base intention and wrong-minded impulse, no amount of the madcap humor or forced emotion here can save it.
The contrived plot kicks off when a German soldier is found mysteriously murdered in a small Transylvanian burg. Nazi occupiers then threaten to execute the town's 10 leading citizens — including a priest (a miscast
With no time for detective work, the marked locals promise the French-born Ipu, a damaged
Even Ipu's loyal young friend Alex (Bogdan Iancu), who discovered the dead soldier to begin with, can't stop the dastardly plan.
That the slow-witted Ipu proves wiser than the townsfolk realize (odd, since he's lived among them for 30 years) offers a nice twist. But the action culminates in such cop-out fashion that it undercuts the movie's intended messaging. Sluggish pacing by director Bogdan Dreyer doesn't help.
"A Farewell to Fools." MPAA rating: PG-13 for a violent image and brief strong language. Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.