Like a Prince

Like a Prince
Original title:Comme un prince
Director:Ali Marhyar
Running time:90 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
Souleyman, 27, a boxing champion who is preparing for the Olympic Games with the French national team, sees his future shattered when he cracks the bones in his hand following a bar brawl. Souleyman was expelled from the team and sent to the Château de Chambord, where he had to carry out his 400 hours of community service, picking up garbage in the gardens. Initially unmoved by the place, Souleyman ends up taking an interest in the château and the people who work there, and in particular Eddy, the events manager, who takes him into another world. But his encounter with Mélissa, a young teenager with an exceptional talent for boxing, will put his plans into question...

Mulder's Review

Comme un prince, the first feature film by Ali Marhyar, known for his work as a screenwriter in the Casting(s) series and as an actor in such productions as Les Cadors, Family Business and Candice Renoir, is a social comedy that rings true. With a generous spirit that encourages unity and progress across social classes, the film pits a somewhat arrogant professional athlete against a young girl in a difficult situation. The latter's fighting skills suggest both potential sporting success for her and a chance for him to redeem himself in the eyes of the sporting authorities. The well-oiled script introduces significant obstacles for the main character, including compulsory community service and a ban on approaching a boxing club.

Set in the Château de Chambord, the interactions with the director and events coordinator, played by Julia Piaton, as well as the pseudo-friendship with his supervisor (Jonathan Cohen), infuse the story with humor, alternating between elements of torture and positive developments. Ahmed Sylla delivers a nuanced performance in the lead role, and his chemistry with Mallory Wanecque works wonderfully. Appearances by Jonathan Lambert and Antoine Gouy add delicious absurdity. All in all, Comme un prince stands out as the first successful comedy of 2024.

Ali Marhyar's directorial debut is a victory both for its theatrical release and at the Alpe d'Huez Comedy Festival. The film manages to balance the influences of iconic works such as Rocky and Billy Elliot, blending British vibes with French humor. Ali Marhyar deftly allows Ahmed Sylla to step back and let his various teammates shine, particularly highlighting Mallory Wanecque's captivating performance. The film features a seamless blend of comedic styles, from Jonathan Cohen to Jonathan Lambert, ensuring a consistently engaging tone.

The refreshingly autobiographical nature of the film, driven by Ali Marhyar's passion for boxing and French history, is sure to resonate with audiences. The story, centered on the transmission between a top-level athlete and a budding young boxer living in a foster home, manages to stir emotions, particularly in the relationship between Souleyman, his father and Melissa.

Like a Prince fulfills all the essential criteria of a good comedy: being both popular and entertaining. On the positive side, the ingredients of a perfect fairy tale lack depth and substance. The pacing and direction are commendable of Ali Marhyar's relative inexperience as a first-time director, and the lead actors' dedication to physical training for convincing boxing scenes is acknowledged.

Like a Prince is a delightful comedy, mainly praised for the authenticity of its actors in their roles. Notable performances by Julia Piaton, Jonathan Lambert and Jonathan Cohen contribute to the film's pleasant, authentic atmosphere. The film is likely to appeal to viewers looking for a light, sincere cinematic experience.

Like a Prince
Directed by Ali Marhyar
Written by Ali Marhyar, Julien Guetta
Starring Ahmed Sylla, Julia Piaton, Mallory Wanecque, Habib Dembélé, Tewfik Jallab, Jérémie Laheurte, Igor Gotesman Jonathan Lambert, Cécile Bois
Cinematography : Noémie Gillot
Edited by Jessica Menendez, , Samuel Danesi
Music by Bonjour Meow
Production companies : Issa!Films, Quad Films, France 3 Cinéma, Orange Studio
Distributed by Orange Studio / Apollo Films
Release dates : 23 October 2023 (Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival), 17 January 2024 (France)
Running time : 90 minutes

Seen January 19, 2024 at UGC Ciné-cité Les Halles

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