Le Bureau, France's answer to The Office, loses something in translation
Friday 26 May 2006
French television viewers have discovered life in Slough-sur-Seine - the first episode of a French remake of the triumphant BBC sit-com The Office was broadcast last night.
The drab, overlit offices of Wernham Hogg just off a roundabout in Slough became the not-quite-so-drab, overlit offices of Cogirep, in Villepinte, near Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris.
David Brent, the compelling monster of sweaty, hypocritical, jokey, British middle management became Gilles Triquet, a sweaty, hypocritical monster of jokey, French middle management. Brent's irritating beard became a tiny, Gallic strip of unshaved hair on M. Triquet's chin.
The characters in Le Bureau, on the Canal Plus cable and satellite channel, were the same. The plot was the same. The spoof documentary style was the same.
And yet, somehow, the first episode flopped miserably. The translation of suburban, white-collar Britain to suburban, white-collar France was too literal. The characters and situations were too British. Cogirep, "the third largest paper distribution company in France", did not feel like France at all. It felt like a British suburban office, played by French actors. What Le Bureau missed most of all was the presiding genius of Ricky Gervais, the creator and central character of The Office. Without him, despite valiant efforts by his French alter-ego, François Berléand, the whole thing slipped back into being just another sit-com.
Gervais WAS David Brent; Berléand was much too actorly as Gilles Triquet. Brent's sly glances at the documentary "camera" become lingering, self-justifying appeals by Berléand, who is older than Brent and not so bizarrely likeable.
He captures the annoying, French middle-management tic of breaking self-consciously into English: "Il y a no problem." All the same, he ends up being neither French nor English but stranded somewhere in mid-Channel.
The one triumph of the night was the performance of Benoit Carré as Joel Liotard, the equivalent of the overgrown boy-scout Gareth in The Office. Although dressed better than Gareth (suits slightly too large, not three sizes too large) Carré captured the same empty-headed, military- obsessed, vacuous, incompetent ambition. Those qualities, at least, seem to cross the Channel with no trouble.
To be fair, having seen some of the later episodes of Le Bureau, in an initial series of six, they are much better than the first.
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...