12 July 2018



'Pas de fleurs.'

'I'm a gangster. I rob banks.'

'I don't trust people. At all.'

'Find Bibi and you find Gigi.'

'Never forget that I love you, okay...?'

'She's into big engines. She drives Gigi...!'

'Knock it off, Serge, or you can do your own fucking robberies.'

'Choose your husband carefully, because he'll give you children.'

'Fuck you and your friends! You follow each other around like puppies!'

'You either tell the truth or you stop doing whatever it is that makes you lie. A real man tells the truth.'

'I grew up with those guys. They're my brothers, my family. We've been doing it since we were kids. It's exciting.'

Phwoaaaaaar. Matthias Schoenaerts is a fine bit of shtuff, as we say here in Ireland. (That's not a misprint, by the way. You have to put the 'h' in stuff and sound it out good...!) When I saw him for the first time ever in 2015 in Jacques Audiard's magnificent RUST AND BONE, I thought he was the best side of beef I'd seen in many a long day.

Oh, what, sorry, am I objectifying the male body...? So sorry but I'm not sorry at all, lol. Sue me if you must but I'll never stop fancying the beefier gentleman. In RUST AND BONE, we got to see him totally starkers and let's just say that you wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating ginger nuts.

Mattie has slimmed down a fair bit in French-language film RACER AND THE JAILBIRD, whether intentionally or otherwise I don't know, but it's a shame anyway. The extra weight suited him. Hopefully he'll put it back on again for his next flick.

Anyway, so Mattie plays a gangster called Gigi in this one, a gangster who masquerades as a big wheel in the car import-export business, but if you believe that, you'll believe anything, lol. He's as crooked as they come really, carrying out heists and bank jobs with the small group of pals he was in Juvie with.

That's so ironic, isn't it? It's a sad fact that when you stick a criminally-inclined kid in a place like that to straighten him out, all you're doing is ensuring that he leaves Juvie with a Masters Degree in being a petty thug and a menace to society. That certainly seems to be the case with Gigi and his buddies. 

The first robbery we see them carry out is pretty terrifying. Wearing masks with built-in voice distorters, they rob a bank, terrorise the staff and beat at least one man to a bloody pulp, although Gigi is seen attempting to comfort a young female clerk, the film's way of showing us that he's a good guy at heart. This job, awful as it is, is just what he does. Hmmm. Bit dodgy, that. I mean, you are what you do, aren't you?

At the start of the film, Gigi meets a woman called Bibi. Grrrrrrr. So jealous, lol. She's not even that good-looking. She's got shoulder-length ginger hair, a lopsided grin which is probably meant to be delightfully quirky and big teeth, and she drives racing cars. 

Funny job for a woman, I would have said. Humph. Standing behind a cosmetics counter advising other women on the right colour of blusher to wear, now that's a nice normal job for a woman, and I'm sure there are others. Secretarial work to an important businessman, that's a nice job too. Or dressmaking, so few women make their own clothes nowadays.

Bibi's the racer to Mattie's jailbird, although the racing isn't really remotely integral to the plot. I think the film-makers just put it in to give the film its catchy title. I don't like the title, by the way, RACER AND THE JAILBIRD. It's all wrong for this film.

It's like SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, a light-hearted fun film consisting of one long car chase and endless getaway music in the key of diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-doo-doo. Nope, I don't like the title at all. Too throwaway by far.

Any-hoo, once Gigi meets the annoying Bibi, he falls head-over-heels in love with her for some reason. I find her irritating and boring, a big puss-faced mopey-arse, but I'm not the one who has to shag her, lol. Gigi is, and does, within a short time of meeting her, the big horndog.

The pair are so into each other that they decide to get married, although I'm not sure if that ever happens. The film is a bit unclear on that point. Bibi's Dad Freddy, a self-made man who didn't bloody well get where he is today by suffering fools lightly, shrewdly assesses Gigi as a liar and a conman, but he's prepared to welcome him into the family for Bibi's sake.

Everyone around Gigi knows what he does, except for Bibi. She's never even seen where he lives, a giant giveaway that he's up to no good. Bibi starts to notice that Gigi's being dishonest with her about where he goes and what he does for a living.

In true crime film fashion, Gigi promises to go straight after... you guessed it... one last heist. How many movies portray criminals desperate to get out of the game but they have to pull off one last job so they can have enough money to settle down and go straight?

Or maybe they're being blackmailed or forced into doing this one last heist? Or maybe they were 'retired' from the business of crime and they're coming out of retirement to do the job because they're either bored with going straight or they're being threatened.

The world of movies adores this clichéd old storyline. If it had been any other actor but the new Muscles From Brussels, I might have been bored at this juncture. As it is, I'm going to be unusually picky here and say that the last forty minutes of the two-hours-and-ten-minutes-long film are a real mess and I would genuinely have chopped a lot of that stuff out.

The last forty minutes are all over the place. I would have ended the film sooner. I didn't understand the ending as it is, and the fear of dogs felt a bit tacked-on. Otherwise, it's a perfectly cromulent vehicle for the magnificent mass of quivering muscle that is Matthias Schoenaerts in full throttle and I'd totally recommend you guys going to see this when it comes to the cinema this week.

Do you know who Mattie reminds me of? Remember Jack and Vera Duckworth's son Terry, played by Nigel Pivaro, from CORONATION STREET? He was a big dark-haired hunk of muscle and a real charmer with the ladies but he'd sell his own Granny to make a quick buck. More often than not, he was legging it out the back door just at the moment when the cops were coming in at the front. He broke his mother's heart all right, that bad lad.

Gigi in RACER AND THE JAILBIRD is nowhere near as cold, callous and conniving as Terry Duck-Egg (they're mostly similar in looks only) but he can't resist the lure of easy money to save his life, any more than bad egg Terry could. I wonder if either of them have heard of the rather outré concept of- excuse my French- working for a living? It's boring and tedious but at least it's honest and you get two weeks paid holiday a year...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


 You can contact Sandra at:



No comments:

Post a comment