Life’s a Lottery – Rediscovering ‘Loser Takes All!’ / ‘Qui Perd Gagne!’ (France 2003 – 92 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - February 11, 2015
Life’s a Lottery – Rediscovering ‘Loser Takes All!’ / ‘Qui Perd Gagne!’ (France 2003 – 92 mins)

How does one man win the national lottery twice? Well, watch the excellent French mystery ‘Loser Takes All!’, and you may found out!

An almost unheard of movie, it has a hook that grabs you right from the off and, while the film is both clever and sometimes confusing, the central plot could not be more simple.

Serge Vaudier (Maurice Benichou), a mathematics professor, does the seemingly impossible; he wins the national lottery twice. Compulsive gambler Jacques Loriot (Thierry Lhermitte) and his government worker girlfriend Angèle (Elsa Zylberstein) set about trying to discover his so-called winning formula. When the public begin to lose interest in the lottery, the race is on to discover how he did it, so that the organizers can restore faith in the system.

With elements of both comedy and thriller, this gem was a blind buy in a French hypermarket, and I was definitely glad that I did. Starring charismatic leads Thierry Lhermitte and Elsa Zylberstein, the pair make for an appealing couple as they battle the authorities and each other, while trying to figure out the secret to Vaudier’s double win. Lhermitte is especially good as Jacques, the past-his-prime gambler whose computer-like memory is both an asset and a burden to him. Pretty Elsa Zylberstein went on to impress in the award-winning drama ‘I’ve Loved You So Long’ (2008), playing the younger sister of Kristin Scott Thomas’s paroled prisoner. Talented character actor Maurice Bénichou is very good as Vaudier, and had earlier played a memorable part in the sublime Amélie (2001), as the childhood owner of the metal box that begins Amélie Poulain’s romantic adventure.

Director and co-writer Laurent Bénégui works predominately as a producer, and this movie is his last cinematic feature to date. The colourful and often clever cinematography was by Gérard Simon who also worked that year on the vibrant Vincent Perez adventure ‘Fanfan’.

‘Loser Takes All!’ has many interesting scenes and highly engaging moments as it cleverly unravels its mystery. The underground scenes where the authorities theorize on how the wins may have occurred are fascinating to watch, providing the viewer with an inside look at the fictional mechanics of the lottery system.

Almost too clever for its own good, I had to watch the movie twice to fully understand all the twists and turns, but it’s the sort of film that you can easily return to as it’s so engaging. Fans of puzzles and mathematics will get a kick out of the film, while others should still enjoy this entertaining and comical one-of-a-kind French flick.

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