The Annuity (1972) Poster


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Faites-moi confiance ! (Trust me !)
thegreatswan11 October 2003
X-Mas 1930 : a 59 years-old man called Martinet goes to Doctor Galipeau for a complete check-up. The doc is sure that his patient will die in some months maybe a year, so he proposes to the old man and his own brother to begin a annuity contract : every year, the Galipeau's will give to the old-timer a sum of money (based on aluminum rates), and when Martinet will die, his house of Provence (in a small unknown town called St-Tropez) will be theirs... But after nine years, the whole family began to think that enough is enough, and they tried to end the existence of Martinet...

Simple but excellent plot : Michel Serrault ( only 44 at this time) gets 25 years older...and more, and he is absolutely perfect as the good naive old man, the family Galipeau is perfectly despicable, mainly the doctor, a great Michel Galabru. His lines are sooo good ! Every year, on X-Mas day, he has lunch with his family, and he talks a lot : Examples : In 1930 : "Galipeau will die within six me !" In 1932 : "Hitler? Who is Hitler? Nothing but a little house painter ! He will never me !"

Remember : that's a comedy ! So, you can watch it and enjoy ! TRUST ME !!!
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One of the warmest and most delightful gems of French comedy ... trust me ...
ElMaruecan822 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"The Annuity" relies on a simple and implacable pattern: whatever Dr. Gallipeau (Michel Galabru) predicts, he is WRONG.

To give you an idea : he tells his brother Emile (Jean-Pierre Darras) that he'll have a daughter, Emile paints the baby's room in pink, yet "It's a boy!", during a Christmas dinner, he says : "What is Hitler, just a house painter … doesn't hold a candle to Hindenburg … trust me" or "I give you my word, there will be no war… trust me" and the scene is instantly followed by archive footage of WWII. His intuitions concluded by a confident "trust me" always fail but thankfully never fail to make us laugh as they are the perfect indication that what he says will definitely not happen.

So, the "trust me" is not just hilarious, it's also the insightful catchphrase foreshadowing the film's plot line. In the beginning, after a very creative opening credits sequence making (literally) a reverse travel from 1970 to 1930, we meet Dr. Gallipeau with Mr. Martinet, a good old 59-year old bachelor with no family and a health that doesn't invite for optimism. "You're just worn-down" laconically says the doctor "all you need is an early retirement». It seems a good idea since. Martinet just bought a little house in a small Mediterranean town named St-Tropez. "Saint … what?" interrupts Gallipeau, this is a joke by itself since the town was and still is the French Mecca of vacationers and showbiz celebrities.

Gallipeau immediately sees the light, how about buying the house with a life annuity?. Mr. Martinet doesn't know exactly what it is, "oh, it's simple, a child can explain it". Then, a child's voice-over explains the annuity contract, with cute little drawing to illustrate them. A buyer gives an old person a life annuity every month, but the house doesn't belong to him until the seller dies. Interesting, isn't it? Well, Gallipeau is convinced that he just made a real bargain and will provide the Family the perfect change from Paris' tumultuous life.

Suspicious first, the Gallipeaus are all enchanted when they visit the house, and can picture themselves leaving a peaceful life under the Provencial sun, in front of the Mediterranean sea. But what they forgot is that the decision was based on the "trust me" pattern and will become a curse for the three generations of Gallipeaus. Not the luckiest cinematic characters, they even follow the notary's advice to base the annuity on some financial ratings, they choose aluminum, which at the Eve of a World War doesn't seem an appropriate choice to make the annuity lower.

And don't worry, I'm not spoiling the film by saying that not only he'll live, but he'll become centenarian, outliving all the Gallipeaus. In fact, this is the basis of the film's comedic plot line following three major running gags. The most obvious one highlights the immoral aspect of the annuity in the way they made the buyers feel good if the seller feels bad. Needless to say that Martinet's health will totally improve, to the Martinet's greatest 'enchantment'. The second running gag is the way Michel Serrault never realizes what the Gallipeaus are into, and consider them as good friends. The third one starts when the ill-fated Gallipeaus, turn into movie villains and decide to give a little hand to destiny.

In fact, the so-called spoiler is the only way to grab people's interest. In a nutshell, a Family buys a life annuity to an old man on the expectation that he'll die soon, yet the guy outlives them all. And if you don't believe this could happen, you have to take into consideration that the case happened so often the annuity almost became synonym of jinx that immediately increase the seller's life expectancy. One of the most famous cases is Jeanne Calment, who was to become the oldest woman in the world, and had the grandchildren of her buyer still paying the annuity. Sometimes, reality can be more exaggeratedly hilarious than fiction. And on that aspect, the idea of making a comedy based on the annuity is pure genius because just the simple thought of it makes smile. It's like Billy Wilder exploiting the "double indemnity" clause in life insurances to make a suspenseful crime film.

It's funny how an administrative operation can build the structure of a whole movie's story; especially when it's written by René Goscinny, the writer of some of the most popular comic-books of the French-Belgian school: Asterix and Lucky Luke to name a few. Goscinny is famous for his sophisticated and intelligent humor, never too raunchy or subversive, but appealing to both kids and adults. The film is directed by his long-time friend Pierre Tchernia, a TV pioneer who collaborated to most Asterix and Lucky Luke films.

But don't let the general sweetness of the film fool you , it's still a masterpiece of Black comedy, full of such hilarious lines as "we should have sold France to the Germans with a life annuity, with you, we'd be safe", a lawyer dies of a heart attack : "poor chap, the last case he won" "the first too" and carried by stellar performances from the two Michels, Galabru and Serrault, Jean-Pierre Darras, Rosy Varte, Yves Robert and Depardieu in a promising debut. The film has also a beautiful way to mark the passing of time, through a great montage of Christmas dinners or cinema's news, It's also a delicious slice of French history from the 30's to 70's.

Since I mentioned Wilder, the film is in the same vein than some of his greatest comedies. That it has only one review (before mine) on IMDb is beyond me since it's one of the most hilarious French comedies enjoyable with a bittersweet taste of poignancy sometimes, as it's also a poetic film about the passing of time. One thing for sure, you'll think about it twice before buying a life annuity.
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According to director Pierre Tchernia,desire to own a house can sometimes turn out to be a true misfortune.
FilmCriticLalitRao5 October 2014
It is said that human minds are full of ideas which do not seem to have any plausible logical interpretation. This is one major reason why it is quite possible that one person's joy can be other person's misery. However, it is equally possible that one cannot live forever merely by wishing misfortune for others. It is on this bizarre yet funny theme that director Pierre Tchernia collaborated with Astérix writer René Goscinny to direct "Le Viager". The film is a true « laugh riot » from the beginning as viewers are likely to have a good laugh even at the manner in which opening credits have been shot. What makes this film a true gem of 'comedy cinema' is its depiction of historical events which are seen through some comical minds. It is interesting to watch how various facets of an average French person's life are shown especially covetous disposition to own a house at all costs. This film's original title "Le Viager" finds its origin in the word "Viage" which in old French means time of life. Hence, this word evokes a state of uncertainty, a risk regarding the duration of life. Le Viager (The life annuity) is a particular mode of sale of movable property. It consists of transforming all or part of the cost of the property in an annual and lifetime annuity (annual regular income for life) for the benefit of the seller. This annuity is usually paid monthly or quarterly (according to agreement between both parties). It is made on the day of the signing of the deed and expires at the time of the death of the seller. It is governed by articles 1968-1983 of the Civil Code.
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The greatest comedy I have ever seen (not exaggerated)
zhoulvyylj5 November 2017
I once watched this movie when I was just a child on TV. This was translated by CCTV (China Central Television) to Chinese. I was so impressed because it was just so funny.

But today, unfortunately, no matter how I tried, I just cannot find any versions of this movie with Chinese or English subtitles or dub.

I sincerely request that if you know any access to watch this with English subtitles or dub, please contact me : Thank you so much!!
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an abundance of riches
myriamlenys30 July 2017
One of the best French comedies ever filmed. The basic idea is comedy gold and the execution rises to the challenge : the plot is both witty and funny, the dialogues are inspired and there are puns, jokes and running gags galore, interspersed with gloriously demented scenes. Even the montages meant to show the passage of time are delightful. In short : one recognizes the divine paw of René Goscinny, of "Obelix and Asterix" fame.

And the fun doesn't stop there : the movie has a stellar cast giving stellar performances. About the only thing bothering me is Michel Serrault's make-up. The said make-up, which is supposed to represent the gradual progression of time deep into venerable old age, is both ugly and unconvincing. And this is not an insignificant detail, given the fact that the age and aging of Serrault are major plot elements.

Viewers need to be aware that much of the humor is dark to the point of blackness : the comedy is speaking of the corrosive effects of avarice and envy on the human soul. However, it is not an immoral or nihilistic movie : innocence is rewarded, while the various evildoers all get what's coming to them. In fact, the ending includes a pretty literal case of an "engineer hoist with his own petard"...
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Trust Me, I'm A Doctor
writers_reign5 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Something of a one-trick pony this fairly obscure entry comes with an English version yet ironically a cast that is virtually totally unknown outside France, even the lead, Michel Serrault was an unknown quantity at the time. Today the highest profile is that of Gerard Depardieu but again this was prior to his breakthrough role in Les Valseuses and he contributes virtually nothing in a late appearance as one of the contract killers hired in desperation by a family who have spent forty years of frustration waiting for centenarian Serrault to die so that they may inherit his house in St. Tropez. That is, the one-trick. In 1930 Serrault's doctor figures he is on his last legs and persuades his (the doctor's) brother-in-law to offer Serrault an annuity, paying him so much per annum and then, on his death, inheriting his house. Like the man said, the best-laid schemes of mice and men ...
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