Film Friday: Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis

Bienvenue_chez_les_CH'TISBienvenue Chez les Ch’tis, or Welcome to the Sticks, is a wonderful French comedy about a post office manager who is transferred to the country’s far north — a punishment levied for his pretending to have a disability to secure a sought-after posting to the Riviera.

“I’ll call you when I get to…[long pause] the North region,” says Philippe Abrams to wife Julie. He had sought the Mediterranean promotion to please her. Julie was already tired of their home in sunny Provence, so nothing will induce her to move to Bergues in the cold and rainy north.

Sure enough, the instant his car passes the sign “Welcome to the North,” it begins to pour. His first impressions of Bergues and its oddball inhabitants confirm Philippe’s worst fears, but first impressions prove misleading.

Bienvenue footballMuch to Philippe’s surprise, he begins to fit in and enjoy himself, learning the local dialect of ch’ti (everyone seems to lisp), eating lunch at the fry shack and cheering the regional team at football matches. Yet, when he tries to tell Julie that life in Bergues is good, she accuses him of putting on a brave face and begs him to tell her the “truth.”

Philippe loves this new found sympathy and begins to tell his wife what she expects to hear, embellishing freely about life in the terrible north. So what will he and his friends in Bergues do when Julie decides to visit?

Bienvenue drunkEven though I am sure that I missed many funny nuances, I laughed out loud at Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis. It’s worth watching just to see Philippe and his colleague Antoine bicycle drunkenly through town because every friendly citizen invites them inside for one little drink when they knock on doors to deliver mail.

A runaway hit in France, Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis stars versatile actors Kad Merad and Dany Boon. Boon, who grew up in the northern region of France and can speak ch’ti, also directed and co-wrote the film.

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Bienvenue Bergues