The Big Hit
Inspired by a real event that occurred in Sweden in the 1980s, The Big Hit follows Étienne (Kad Merad), a small-time actor with big dreams and an even bigger sense of self-importance, as he takes a job running a theatre class in prison. His class is a ragtag group who initially just want to joke around while they put on small comedic performances, but Étienne sees potential and persuades one of the prison wardens (Marina Hands) to allow him to put on a production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, believing it to be a perfect reflection of the prisoners’ situation.
What follows is a contrived underdog tale in which the troupe must overcome various obstacles to meet the tight six-month deadline to get the show good enough for the stage. Emmanuel Courcol’s comedy bears striking similarities with School of Rock and (weirdly) Nativity! in this regard (though it’s not as family-friendly) as the passionate mentor tames the chaos to create something special. While the ensemble cast all give commendable performances, the lacklustre script is unable to generate that spark that enables audiences to become fully invested in the production.
It’s only after the big performance, which happens around the halfway mark, that the film begins to break free from its formulaic plotting as the production goes on tour. The treatment of the prisoners offstage creates an intriguing parallel with the freedom they feel onstage, while a subplot involving Étienne and his daughter fleshes out the character (though this particular addition ultimately leads nowhere). The second half meanders along in this fashion until it comes to the final act, at which point, The Big Hit returns to its deeply contrived roots for a manipulative and nonsensical monologue. It’s the worn-out grand gesture cliché that lacks sincerity and cheapens what little meaning the script was able to muster.
Despite presenting itself as a thoughtful celebration of culture, The Big Hit is just as trivial and uninspired as any other film with a similar premise.
The Big Hit is released in select cinemas on 24th June 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Big Hit here: