If French comedy is your cup of tea, be sure to see Miss screening as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival on Friday 19 March 2021. A wonderful feel-good story, masterfully helmed by actor and model Alexandre Wetter playing the lead character, also named Alex.
The tale kickstarts from Alex’s school days, where the morning activity of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ introduces his desire to one day be crowned Miss France. The ridicule by school children can sometimes be the harshest, and the next we see of the budding beauty queen is in a boxing gym as a young adult. He works as a cleaner there, and today, the gym kids are receiving a guest. It’s none other than Elias (Quentin Faure), the school boy who laughed the loudest all those years before. During those years, Elias achieved his dream of championship boxer while Alex lost his direction after his parents died.
Alex lives with an extended family of characters – Yolande (Isabelle Nanty) is house mum, landlord and business owner, running a team of seamstresses in her basement. She has a hard shell but a soft centre when it comes to Alex. Living in a sumptuous art nouveau-decorated room is Lola (Thibault de Montalembert, Call My Agent), an exuberant sex worker whose conquests provide much light relief. Finally, there is Ahmed (Hedi Bouchenafa) and Randy (Moussa Mansaly), a pair of hopeful entrepreneurs working to create the next tech startup. When Alex’s dream of winning the Miss France pageant resurfaces, they will all come together to help him.
Alex’s transformation into a beauty contestant is stunning and will fool everyone he meets. The first hurdle is to win the regional crown which he does with aplomb, citing a speech that rocks the socks off Amanda (Pascale Arbillot), the pageant organiser. Amanda sees in Alex a rough diamond with some esteem challenges, and she secretly wishes Alex to shine.
The girls are subjected to a relentless schedule of pre-pageant activities, including etiquette, dance lessons, costume fittings and rehearsals. The theme of this pageant is the environment, so the girls are shepherded on to a bus for cold Belgium for a series of unglamorous publicity shoots at a myriad of industrial sites.
It’s all fun at the beginning, but Alex suffers homesickness, alienation from the other girls and self doubt. On a break from the pageant, he returns home and announces he’s quitting. Is it all a futile dream, or is it one of the best experiences he’ll have?
Wetter is the true star of this film, and his transformation is mesmerising. From the start, you’ll be cheering him on and you’re in for an enjoyable ride.
Miss is showing as part of the 2021 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. Check your local guides for screening times.
Length: 107 mins
Language: French with English subtitles
Directed by Ruben Alves
Written by Elodie Namer and Ruben Alves
Stars Alexandre Wetter, Quentin Faure, Isabelle Nanty, Thibault de Montalembert, Stefi Celma, Hedi Bouchenafa, Moussa Mansaly, Pascale Arbillot