Monsieur Claude is a real picture-book Frenchman, like he can be found in any language teaching book. Monsieur Claude is corpulent, owns a a cottage, has a career, a presentable wife and four daughters. Monsieur Claude can be seen in cinemas in the movie “Monsieur Claude and his four daughters. The film can be described as THE classic French (Multikulti-)Comedy of the year. Even in a rather small town like mine the film has been shown for months. Because of this fact I thought it might be a “must-see”.
Well, I guess Monsieur Claude and his four daughters is what people call a “feel-good movie”, many touchy items are cracked superficially, nothing is deepened or tackled in such a way that the audience could be forced to reflect. Of course not because otherwise it would be a critically serious movie that would vanish from cinemas within a week or so without a word of warning. What worries me? Okay, there is this perfect guy, Mr. Claude and his perfect family.So nothing special, you think? Well, just think of your friends – just the appearance for example – how many of them are perfect – looks, careers and highly cultured? Not too many? That’s what I’ve guessed. Okay, let’s go back to Mr. Claude. His little world seems to be perfect until one of his daughters decides to get married to Muslim, the next one marries a Jew, another one a Chinese and last but not least a black guy – but, he is catholic after all!
So, the black guy’s father from the Ivory Coast – well of of course – is just as crammed with stereotypes as Monsieur Claude. This nourishes the hope that the film might take a metaphoric turn by holding up a racist mirrow to Mr. Claude – after one hour full of clichéd jokes about Jews, Muslims, Chinese and Blacks. The willing audience might have guessed it already: Monsieur Claude and his coloured counterpart become goood friends and ride together into the sunset and promise each other that the families will visit each other in Israel, in Maghreb, in China and also at the Ivory Coast. Fortunately, that finally discharges the audience from any liability to any critical discussion or reflection why the respective son-in-law is not a good French catholic and thus does not match the expectations of Monsieur Claude. No, the cinemagoer rather is given the chance to leave the cinema with a bounce in his step and his pre-built opinion of Jews, Muslims, Chinese and African catholics. Everything is fine, nothing is questioned. Everything remains unaffected.