Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, is a quite a difficult name to pronounce for the non-French audience and still with the English translation ‘Welcome to the Land of Sticks’ sounds as what is hysterically funny and understandably and the overall feel is sophisticated for a Euro-comedy, wide crossover appeal for this very Gallic farce has been commercially success in France and told that it had broken box office record
Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis is directed by Dany Boon, who also share the screen space along with Kad Merad, tells the story of Philippe Abrams (Kad Merad), a post office executive, who is desperately looking for a transfer to Southern France, and this is due to the terrible pressure from his nagging wife. He has served his time, trying to gather points to procure a highly-coveted post in the South of France, which is a delightful holiday destination for Frenchmen. When it becomes clear that handicapped postal workers receive priority for these postings, Abrams decides to take radical measures. However, things do not go as Abrams had planned and he finds himself transferred to the frozen wasteland known as Northern France, more specifically to the town of Bergues, France. The North of France is much maligned by Frenchmen for being far too cold and populated with drunken, inbred, coal mining, Flemish-speaking Frenchmen.
Abrams fears the move to la toundra française, yet through the course of events, he and the audience begins to see the north in a different light. The film takes us to the new encounter where Abrams meet the loveable, hitherto pathetic postal worker, Antoine, who takes Philippe Abrams under his wing to show him the north. The chemistry of Abrams and Philippe’s mode and performance drives us to hilarious laughter and there are several scenes where my stomach hurt from laughter, believe me the duo are spot on with their comic timing, the one we usually see in some of the vernacular Indian languages, and not that precise to the Hollywood type of comedies, and never the less there is always a great laughter engine, la François, which the French comedy relies on their typical facial expression, the rough and the good natured characters amuse to follow the simple conceit in a most enjoyable French film that you will ever have an occasion around.
Bergues proves to be a charming place teeming with warm, friendly people and co-workers. Soon, Abrams is completely won over, eating smelly Maroilles cheese, talking to virtually every local, playing at the beach, playing the bells at the bell tower together, drinking beer like a local, going to an RC Lens football match and so forth. He tries to describe the happy turn of events to his wife who has remained in the South with their young son, but she does not believe him. This inspires Philippe to tell her what she wants to believe and that’s the despicable there.
Everything goes fine until Julie decides to join him in the North to relieve his gloom. Philippe is forced to confess to his new friends and colleagues that he has described them as barbarians to his wife. First, they are angry, but they then decide to help him by behaving as such to cover for his lies and to scare Julie so she will depart quickly. Also they let her stay in the old mining place of Bergues, pretending it is the main town. Julie has a very bad weekend, but decides she will move to Bergues to stay with Phillipe, to be supportive. Just when she’s ready to go back south, she discovers that she has been tricked when a local biker tells Julie that the actual town of Bergues is several kilometers away. When Philippe finds Julie at his real Bergues home, he tells her the truth about the happiness and friendship that the town has brought him. Julie is disappointed at first, but after realizing her husband is happy, she decides to move north to be with him.
Meanwhile, Antoine and Annabelle had been dating for over a year, but had broken up due to Antoine’s passiveness towards his mother. Despite their split, Antoine still has feelings for Annabelle, who now has a new boyfriend. Upon learning this, Antoine cheers himself up by drinking alcohol during his work hours and behaves in an erratic manner. When Phillipe urges Antoine to take courage and be assertive, Antoine finally confesses to his mother that he loves Annabelle and is planning to move to a new place with her. Unexpectedly, his mother is happy about it – she has waited all these years for Antoine to stand up for himself. As a result, Antoine proposes to Annabelle by the bell tower when it is playing a Stevie Wonder song. Annabelle accepts, and they get married.
Three years later, Phillipe receives a transfer to move south. Accepting the offer, Phillipe and his family move south. Just as he is about to say goodbye, he is reduced to tears, proving Antoine’s theory on the Ch’tis proverb (“A stranger brays twice up north- once on his arrival and once at his departure.”)
For the name that someone has lived in Northern France, it is imaginable having a contextual understanding about the movie is burlesquing, having that assertion, aimed or not, we understand these are the people anywhere in the World can be represented on, and in our normal working day of our lives, or in the streets of any place, the characters convincingly as being stupid, uncultured, inbred, prone to alcoholism, poor manners, and poor speech, we always make fun, either an Italian, or Polish or Irish, Arab, etc.; this would be something nearly a universal signage anywhere in the world sullying mouth and making fun is what we see throughout and that’s the perception we live in
I would debate that much of this has something to do with the urban and rural population divide, prejudice the slower ways and their slower speech as evidence of slower minds and less culturally tuned traits and take it easy life is very genial. Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis does an excellent job of demonstrating this through the experience of Philippe Abrams. It is an experience that I believe will resonate with people in every day around and this film for sure do strike and if want to close with a quote from Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis, which has always stuck with me since I saw the film and returned home to my city…..and remains true to any simple folklore “A stranger who comes to the North cries twice: once when he arrives, and once when he is leaving”
- Directed by Dany Boon
- Produced by Claude Berri; Jérôme Seydoux
- Written by Dany Boon; Alexandre Charlot & Franck Magnier
- Cast::Dany Boon; Kad Merad and Zoé Félix
- Music by Philippe Rombi
- Distributed by Pathé Distribution
- Release dates: 20 February 2008
- Run time of 106 minutes
- Country: France
- Language: French