A struggling actor Etienne (Kad Merad) volunteers at a French prison to offer a theatre workshop to a small group of prisoners. He plans to mount a Samuel Beckett play “Waiting for Godot”. This is not a simple play but in six months he has them ready to go. Their first performance in Lyon takes place at a friend’s theatre. It is so well received off the prisoners go on a theatrical tour of France. Well you can guess the rest but the ending will surprise you.
Much of the film was shot in a French penitentiary giving the film some gritty reality. The prisoners know much about waiting as they wait for the days to pass when their sentence is served or they are paroled. Prisons are designed for retribution and rehabilitation. However the prisoners in the theatre troupe are not being rehabilitated in any meaningful way until they prepare for the play. They realize their potential as actors and human beings despite their insecurities and general lack of self respect. It’s a rocky road for the prisoners and Etienne.
And their biggest and final performance is at the Odeon Theatre in Paris where even the Minister of Justice is in attendance. But if you are expecting a compelling performance you’ll be surprised who gives it!
Although their success transforms these prisoners returning to prison is a difficult and disheartening experience and you really feel it in your bones.
The film is based upon the experience of Jan Jönson a Swedish actor who trained a group of convicts in Sweden to perform “Waiting for Godot”. As for their last performance Beckett said it was the best thing that could happen to his play!
The film was directed by Emmanuel Courcol.
You can see the trailer here https://vimeo.com/466653375
The film is currently playing throughout Canada.