Directed by Directed by Alain Guiraudie | Written by Alain Guiraudie and Laurent Lunetta
US release date: April 11, 2014
Directed by Alain Guiraudie | Written by Alain Guiraudie and Laurent Lunetta
With Ludovic Berthillot, Hafsia Herzi, Pierre Laur
93 min, Adventure | Comedy, France, 2009

Support provided by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy | print courtesy of Institut Français.

For the past 15 years, Alain Guiraudie has quietly been directing some of the most unique and peculiar films in contemporary cinema, a secret that is finally out thanks to the success of his latest feature, STRANGER BY THE LAKE. That the new film has won such acclaim is cause for celebration. That it was the first of Guiraudie’s works to be distributed in the U.S. is a crying shame, especially with regard to his previous feature, THE KING OF ESCAPE, the revelation of Lincoln Center’s recent Guiraudie retrospective and one of the greatest films in recent memory. To make up for the neglect that befell it upon its completion in 2009, Anthology Film Archives is giving it the belated theatrical run it deserved all along.

As warm and affecting as it is fearlessly outlandish and matter-of-factly surreal, THE KING OF ESCAPE features Ludovic Berthillot, in a brave and unforgettably vanity-free performance, as Armand, a gay, overweight, middle-aged tractor salesman. After rescuing a 16-year-old girl (Curly, played by the gifted Hafsia Herzi) from an attempted sexual assault, Armand finds her developing an unlikely crush on him. Already struggling with mid-life doubts, he decides to give the relationship a go, triggering a delirious, increasingly bizarre chain of events. Fleeing across the French countryside, Armand and Curly are pursued by an eccentric cast of characters, who give ample evidence of Guiraudie’s unselfconscious, flattery-free focus on types (economic, social, physical, or sexual) who are rarely represented on-screen. Paradoxically, THE KING OF ESCAPE becomes increasingly grounded and genuinely wise the stranger it gets. Convulsively hilarious and profoundly liberating, it’s unlike anything else under the sun.

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