After being away from the big screen for a while, comedian and actor Gad Elmaleh returns to the cinema on November 16 with a very personal film, “Reste un peu”. A comedy with autobiographical impulses based on his own life and his spiritual journey. We laugh, of course, but we also wonder. And that makes all the difference.
Has the elusive Gad Elmaleh finally agreed to lift the veil on his faith? Yes, but in its own way and on its terms, namely a comedy with autobiographical impulses, in theaters on November 16. “Reste un peu” is his second film as a director after coconut (2008). We see him suddenly land in France with his parents – who play their own roles – after three years in the United States. All the way to battle among the latter who give him a welcome worthy of the prodigal son. Although very happy to see them again, it is for a completely different reason that Gad returned: his baptism.
A sacrament which he did not dare to speak to his family, Sephardic Jews, who would experience it as a failure, a blow to their history and a deep disappointment. This voluntarily maintained vagueness – because lived – gives rise to tasty misunderstandings like this scene where Gad, living with his parents, watches a Marian procession in his bed at night… and suddenly closes his computer screen when he hears his mother come home in his room. And the latter to remind him that he is great and that he does what he wants. But it will not be long before she discovers the real reason for her son’s return by arranging her belongings and discovering, in her suitcase, a statue of the Virgin Mary.
These humorous scenes are followed by others, where we discover his career as a catechumen in the parish of Sainte-Cécile de Boulogne, the discussions he may have had with one of his companions, a nun from the community of Beatitudes, as well as Father Barthélémy, parish priest of Sainte-Cécile, who also plays his “real” role in the film. There is also this touching meeting with a young student named Agnès who approaches him to thank him for the happiness he brings to people and assure him of his prayers.
But the hardest part remains this tension, from the beginning to the end of the film, in Gad Elmaleh, between the Jewish faith of his family heritage and his mysterious attraction for the Virgin Mary from a very young age when he crossed, despite the ban from his parents, the doors of the church in Casablanca where he grew up, and that he came face to face with a statue of the mother of Jesus. A scene described very well by his sister, who also plays her own role in the film.
So, what is the part of truth and fiction? Did Gad Elmaleh end up getting baptized? Will his parents accept him? For a few years now, the comedian has been sending discreet signals by going to the sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial, by meeting Cardinal Sarah or even, more recently, by taking theology courses at the Collège des Bernardins. So, converted and baptized, Gad?
These are, ultimately, perhaps not the “right” questions. “Rest a little”, these words pronounced at the start of the film by the parents of Gad Elmaleh, traces a very personal itinerary, that of the comedian, who does not, by definition, lack humor. But which hides even more a certain depth as to the questions that inhabit those who walk. For believers, the end of the film is also an invitation to continue this path of faith, whether for some it is a return to basics and, for others, a necessary setting in motion.