Chouchou, 2003

A patently offbeat and whimsical confection, Merzak Allouache’s Chouchou recalls the more predictably rocambolesque, light comedies of Francis Veber (particularly, La Cage aux Folles), as a displaced foreigner named Choukri (Gad Elmaleh), nicknamed Chouchou by his late mother, claiming to be a Chilean political exile (albeit anachronistically after the fall of Augusto Pinochet), finds refuge in a church run by a compassionate elder priest, Père Léon (Claude Brasseur) and a zealous, chocolate-addicted junior priest (and ex-junkie) named Frère Jean (Roschdy Zem) who sees nightly visions of the Madonna. Rebuilding his life in a supportive community of the rectory, Chouchou obtains a job with a genial and tolerant psychoanalyst (Catherine Frot) who encourages him to re-assert his true identity as a drag queen and consequently, initiates the eccentric, but lovable young man’s process of liberation, independence, and self-(re)discovery in Paris.

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