2021, Movies

Arthur Rambo (2021, Laurent Cantet)

This is the story of a rising French literary star (and YouTube personality) whose career is derailed right at the moment of his big triumph by his Twitter history. it’s something that happens seemingly every day in our world and yet I don’t think I’ve seen yet seen a movie that explicitly deals with this, certainly one that deals with it this well.


An Algerian YouTube personality (YouTube is never mentioned) based in Paris releases his debut novel about his mother’s struggle to immigrate to France and he immediately becomes a literary celebrity. However, the night of his big TV interview someone reveals that he is also “Arthur Rambo” a notoriously toxic Twitter personality who says horrible things about literally every minority group in France, and maybe also white people, I don’t remember. (I don’t know if they ever explicitly say “Twitter” though they do say “Tweets” but the impression is very much that it’s on Twitter.) This happens within 10 minutes and really surprised me (in a good way) as I assumed the film would be about someone threatening to reveal his Twitter identity, not the aftermath of the reveal.

The film follows the protagonist as his literary deal is in jeopardy and various people close to him react in different ways to the revelation that he’s a horrible person on Twitter. He maintains it was a parody (it’s literally translated “a provocation” but I think they mean parody) and some believe him and some don’t.

This is a Paris most of us don’t see in the movies (at least most French movies that get big in North America) and it’s a story that, until recently, wasn’t one we’d likely see from this perspective. The cast is quite good whenever they’re not speechifying (more on that in a second) and the whole thing feels pretty real.

What’s most appreciated is the end, which is handled extremely well given how these things play out for different people in our society. (If he was white, it would likely make more sense to have a more definitive ending.)

My one quibble is that the script does contain a couple of speeches and those felt a little awkward and contrived.

But, on the whole, this is the best film I’ve seen (or that I can remember seeing!) on the clash between being an asshole on the internet and a normal, well-meaning person in real life.


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