Originally called Eyjafjallajökull, after the Icelandic volcano which erupted in 2010, The Volcano is a French film from director Alexandre Coffre. It is a straight-forward comedic romp of an adventure road movie, with its main characters’ loathing for each other providing the essence for the laughs along the way.
Rubber-faced Dany Boon plays Alain, a humble driving instructor who is set to give his 22-year old daughter, Cécile, away at her wedding in a little Greek village. His ex-wife, Valérie (Valérie Bonneton), is also on her way to the wedding, bringing with her her own wedding dress to give to Cécile, a video diary she has been making for her, and a slightly deluded sense of how close she is to her daughter.
The intense hatred between the estranged couple is brought to the surface very early in the film, as they find each other on the same flight to Greece. The pranks begin here, simultaneously with the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which grounds all flights in Europe due to its immense ash cloud. Stranded in Germany and both with a fierce determination to get to their daughter’s wedding and “out-parent” each other, they end up making the journey together . This heightens their competitiveness, childishness and, of course, absolutely wrecks their chances of arriving in Greece unscathed.
The Volcano is a big-budget film with no expense spared; crashes, explosions, police chases and spontaneous light-aircraft theft are all a part of the perilous and quite ridiculous “amazing race” to Greece. The slapstick does get a little outlandish, particularly in the “travelling ark” scene featuring Denis Menochet as a crusader of Christ slash former axe murderer. The funniest clashes are their intensely ludicrous arguments and dares.
At the crux of the couple’s hatred is the fact that Valérie left Alain and Cécile to struggle alone for two decades, and this uncanny road trip gives them the chance to have it out once and for all. The emotional moments are brief, however, as comedy reigns in the story.
The Volcano reached number one in the French box office and it’s delightful that we can now enjoy the film in Australia. Perhaps it has a little less heart than Dany Boon’s 2008 Welcome to the Sticks, but with a more crowd-pleasing pace, this is seriously fun cinema.
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