No matter how they’ll fare during the upcoming award season, it was really only a matter of time before we heard a lot more from “The Artist” stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Their demand is sure to shoot through the roof and, now, it looks like Bejo is already plotting her upcoming schedule, scoring a role in an adaptation of Daniel Pennac‘s classic French novel “The Scapegoat (Au Bonheur des Ogres)” co-starring Raphaël Personnaz and Emir Kusturica.
In the Nicolas Bary film, Bejo will play an investigative journalist who is also the girlfriend of the story’s protagonist, Benjamin Malaussène, a “professional scapegoat” played by Personnaz, who works as a quality controller in a Paris department store, taking the blame for customer complaints.
This particular novel — which is part of a five book trilogy about the chaotic Malaussène clan living in Paris’ bohemian Belleville neighbourhood — follows the story of Benjamin as he becomes the prime suspect when a bomb goes off in the toy department of the aforementioned store. He presumably then teams with Bejo’s characters to begin investigating to clear his name. Kusturica, meanwhile, will take on the role of Benjamin’s Serbian-Croatian petty criminal uncle. Here’s an extended synopsis, courtesy of Amazon:
Benjamin Malaussne’s official job title is Quality Controller, but since nobody could possibly control the quality of all the goods in his Parisian department store, his real vocation is to serve as a scapegoat who can absorb outraged customers’ abuse in a manner so pathetically affecting that the customers withdraw their complaints. It looks as if Ben’s met his match, though, in the latest round of outrages at the store: a series of bombings that claim the lives of a garage mechanic, a pair of smooching senior citizens, a rabid pro-life lecturer, a sanitary-equipment representative. Not only is Ben unable to mollify the shoppers who survived the blasts; he’s become the number-one police suspect. After all, he was on the scene of every explosion (except for one witnessed by his half-sister Thrse on his day off); his half-brother Jeremy sets fire to his school with a similar explosive; even his dog seems mysteriously implicated. In a more straightforward telling, Ben’s new lover, the ravishing shoplifter he insists on calling Aunt Julia, would help him unravel the mystery and clear himself. But that’s not exactly what Pennac (Better Than Life, 1994) has in mind.
Story sounds charming enough, we guess, though the novel is a French best-seller, moving over five million copies. Helmer Bary’s last directing credit is kids flick “Les enfants de Timpelbach“, so perhaps this will have a dose of whimsy to it. Lensing will begin February next year for 11 weeks in Paris and Luxembourg, where a Paris department store is begin constructed.