tue 27/02/2024

Call My Agent!, Series 4, Netflix review - the final bow for the Parisian showbiz saga? | reviews, news & interviews

Call My Agent!, Series 4, Netflix review - the final bow for the Parisian showbiz saga?

Call My Agent!, Series 4, Netflix review - the final bow for the Parisian showbiz saga?

It's daggers drawn in the caustic actors-and-agents drama

Les adieux: the cast assemble for their final series

Sad to report, this fourth series of Call My Agent! (Netflix) will be the final outing for this caustically addictive saga of actors and their agents. The show’s unique trademark has been its success in attracting an impressive roster of A-list French actors and getting them to behave in outlandish and ridiculous ways, but maybe they’re just running out of suitably recognisable names.

Episode 5 of this new batch shows what could have been a possible way ahead by reaching across the Atlantic to pluck Sigourney Weaver (pictured below) out of La-La Land and plonk her in the fabulously expensive Suite Marie-Antoinette in Paris’s Crillon hotel. This creates an opportunity for a treasurable scene of Ms Weaver huffing on her personal treadmill on a balcony overlooking the Place de la Concorde, while her bespoke storyline allowed the writers to deplore (and not for the first time) sexism and gender-stereotyping in the film industry. Why (Weaver demands) couldn’t she play a 70-year-old woman with a lover half her age, when nobody bats an eyelid at older male actors romancing younger women? Unlike real life, she gets her way, though the scene where she launches herself into a full-scale Lindy Hop dance routine in a Parisian bar does veer perilously close to a shark-jumping moment.

There’s a droll tale of Charlotte Gainsbourg being dragged into a diabolical sci-fi movie so full of dimension-swapping and time-jumping that not even the director can remember who’s who and where they are at any given moment. However, since the director is her childhood friend, Gainsbourg can’t bring herself to tell him the project is a disaster. She wants her agent to do it instead. “Officially I love the script and I want to do the film, but there’s no way I’m doing it. Is that clear?” she declares. Then there’s the episode where Franck Dubosc (not a household name in Britain, admittedly) gets his depressed middle-aged mojo rewired by working with a stroppy young actor who has no idea who he is, and a story about Jean Reno getting hired, except that he’s now retired.

The dialogue is spattered with throwaway references to Catherine Deneuve or directors like Ozon or Audiard, but sometimes the starry names are merely a distraction, and Call My Agent! is often at its best when it’s digging into the twisted private lives of the agents. The dominant theme here is that a full-tilt career in showbusiness is liable to suck all the oxygen out of personal relationships.

A prime example is Andréa Martel (Camille Cottin), boss of the ASK agency, as she struggles to maintain her marriage to Charlotte and raise their baby daughter, incidentally getting mauled in the ruthless Parisian trench warfare of finding nannies and day-care facilities. Equally traumatic is the toxic to-and-fro between Mathias Barneville (Thibault de Montalembert) and his daughter Camille (Fanny Sidney). Mathias, former ASK supremo now working as a producer at another company, doesn’t think twice about double-crossing Camille, but karmic come-uppance is speeding down the tracks towards him.

Professional rivalry always trumps what anyone might have been foolish enough to consider a friendship, and reaches new extremes of bitterness as Elise Formain (Anne Marivin) from the Télérama agency schmoozes Andréa into forming a pact. Inexorably, it becomes clear that this liaison was made in hell.

It's enough to put anybody off going anywhere near a career in stage or screen, though the perfectly proportioned glories of pre-Covid Paris are infinitely restful on the eye. And occasionally dreams can come true, as when the adorably sensitive agent Hervé (Nicolas Maury) accidentally discovers that he’s a brilliant instinctive actor. Is it really adieu, or could it be merely au revoir?

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