Welcome to the Sticks (Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis) is an absolutely
Julie Abrams has been feeling depressed lately and is looking forward to her husband, Phillipe, a post office manager, getting a move away from Salon-de-Provence, a lovely town in the South of France, to a Riviera resort. However, that is not to be. As the result of an unsuccessful scam to cheat his way to the resort, Phillipe is punished by being sent to a little village in the north of France. Apparently, in France, the "northern region" is the last place on earth one would want to go.
Phillipe and Julie don't like what they have heard about the northern region — it's apparently very cold, the people are "uncivilised", and they speak a strange dialect of French. Phillipe decides he will go on his own for the two-year stint and visit his wife and son every second weekend. What follows is a simple, but very funny, story in which Phillipe grows to appreciate those who are different from him and what he knows.
At the heart of this light-weight comedy are issues of prejudice and stereotyping, love and relationships, and honesty and dishonesty. Our stereotypes and prejudices frequently prevent us from enjoying life and appreciating others. However, as we are forced to live amongst those we do not understand, our blinkers are stripped away and we realise that, despite differences, we are very much the same. We have the same needs for love and friendship and, ultimately, we can grow to love those who, at first, seem so different.
The humour in Welcome to the Sticks relies a lot on a dialect of the French language. Fortunately, whoever translated the dialogue for the English subtitles did a good job of conveying the essence of the language humour. There are also plenty of sight- gags and situational humour to keep us laughing.
Welcome to the Sticks is a delight to watch and, while we are laughing, the subtle message of the need to accept others and reject stereotypes and cliches seeps into our hearts and minds.
Welcome to the Sticks opens in Australia on September 4.
My Rating: **** (out of 5)