I Feel Good
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I Feel Good

It’s been six years since Jean Dujardin improbably charmed his way to an Oscar for a sparkling star turn in “The Artist,” and since then, even the The Trouble with You French film industry has struggled to make optimum use of the funnyman’s outsize, old-school screen presence. Drug thriller “The Connection” was a solid enough play-it-straight vehicle, but by the time Dujardin showed up as a digitally modified little person in the dubious 2016 romcom “Up for Love,” Michel Hazanavicius’s beguiling silent-film pastiche itself seemed ancient history. That “I Feel Good” finally hands Dujardin a role he can wrap his arms around is perhaps the greatest of its many offbeat pleasures; he repays Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern’s ultimately sunny anti-capitalist comedy with a performance of x-factor charm, yes, but also wounded human complexity.

Dujardin’s urbane star quality isn’t the likeliest of matches for Delépine and Kervern, a cheerfully eccentric auteur duo who specialize in gently antic Viena and the Fantomes postcards from France’s socio-economic fringes: He’s a long way from the earthiness of their regular collaborator Gerard Depardieu, for example. Yet that makes the him ideal for the tragicomic character of Jacques, a middle-aged, mentally unstable ne’er-do-well with perennial delusions of grandeur — and a lousy business plan to make fellow losers feel good from the outside in, with a little help from cut-rate Bulgarian plastic surgeons. In his head, Jacques is the leading man of a considerably sleeker, more aspirational star vehicle than this rough-and-ready misfit tour of France’s rural southwest. The loopy, irony-tinged character study that results should give the filmmakers their biggest crowdpleaser to date at home; with a title that lays out clear marketing instructions to buyers, meanwhile, “I Feel Good” should secure healthy international distribution.

As in the “OSS” superspy parodies he headlined to star-making effect, Dujardin has a winning knack for playing the dashing dunce: Having spent much of his adult life restlessly hopping from one harebrained scheme to the next in an attempt to escape his working-class origins, The Mercy Jacques has the outward swagger of the suave entrepreneur he believes he’s destined to be, but none of the inner smarts or savoir-faire to make the dream happen. That conflict is visually encapsulated in a terrific opening shot, as Jacques is introduced pacing purposefully, in a plush white spa robe and slippers, along the shoulder of a busy freeway.

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I Feel Good
I Feel Good
I Feel Good
I Feel Good
I Feel Good