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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Ab Fab? Pas du tout
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley
Saunders and Lumley inspired a French film imitation
France's movie version of hit British comedy series Absolutely Fabulous has been given a roasting by the country's film critics.

The film, directly translated as Absolument Fabuleux, was described as "disastrous" by one and a "pale copy of the original" by another when it opened this week.

The film stars leading French actresses Nathalie Baye and Josiane Balasko as Patsy and Eddy - the roles played by Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders on TV.


Some of the scenes are funny but most are too laboured and do not succeed in reaching the hilarity so present in the series

Le Parisien

And like their TV originals, Patsy and Edina à la française are lazy boozy self-obsessives.

But despite the popularity of Baye and Balasko, French director Gabriel Aghion's work - along with producer Pascal Houzelot - does not seem to have lived up to expectations.

Absolutely Fabulous the TV series, written by Saunders, has been a success in France where it is dubbed into French and shown on Canal Plus.

'Laboured'

Le Parisien newspaper warned fans of the TV series to beware of Aghion's film.

"They will be disappointed by this adaptation which can be summed as a pale copy of the original.


It is totally hilarious and full of sensational gags - Josiane and Nathalie are hugely talented and extremely funny

Jennifer Saunders

"Some of the scenes are funny but most are too laboured and do not succeed in reaching the hilarity so present in the series."

La Libération said: "Having bitten off more than he can chew, Aghion simply gives up.

"He diminishes what was one of television's most deliciously trash series. His adaptation of the off-the-wall English original is a failure."

And France Soir concluded that Aghion had undertaken "the most suicidal venture of his young career".

But most commentators agreed that Baye's performance as Patsy was a triumph, with Le Parisien calling her "wonderful".

'Hilarious'

The film has at least one confirmed fan in Saunders. On the movie's website, she has written a glowing review.

"Absolument Fabuleux is not simply a French version of the TV series," explains Saunders. "Pascal Houzelot et Gabriel Aghion have created a unique film with a real 'French touch'."

"It is totally hilarious and full of sensational gags: Josiane et Nathalie are hugely talented and extremely funny."

When Absolutely Fabulous was adapted into a US series it was deemed a big flop. It ran for half a series before being pulled.

Though keeping to the TV format, High Society did away with the cigarettes, bad language and drink - stripping the programme of its core elements.

In the UK, a fourth series of Absolutely Fabulous begins on 31 August.

Saunders went back on her decision to draw a line under her creation after making a one-off AbFab style comedy called Mirrorball, also starring Lumley, June Whitfield and herself.

Initial reports suggest that the new series is every bit as funny as the first three with BBC News Online's TV critic William Gallagher pronouncing it "not at all bad".

See also:

08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Quiz June Whitfield: Her replies
08 May 00 | Entertainment
AbFab trio plan new show
14 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC unveils autumn line-up
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