Yes, that image you see before you is indeed dashing gallic Oscar Winner Jean Dujardin and the exquisite Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) in an inventive, stylish and entertaining Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) film, from 2006. OSS-117 Nest of Spies is a truly delightful spy caper, with the handsome Monsieur Dujardinas as Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath – code name OSS 117 – who’s sent to Egypt to get to the bottom of his friend and partner’s murder. Berenice is his local handler. Literally and otherwise.
OSS-117 pulls off the feat of being both faithful to the James Bond / Eurospy genre, and parodying it mercilessly. The performances are great, but it’s the attention to the 1950’s styling that’s most arresting – the cinematography, the art direction, the bleached out lighting, the obvious rear projection and camera movements, the music and the fantastic costumes (Berenice is literally gob-smackingly gorgeous throughout) – that’s so remarkable. It’s campy without being silly, it’s sexist, chauvinist, imperialist and Islamophobic, whilst simulatenously skewering those views in a perfect deadpan. It’s the film you wish Austin Powers had been – and further proof, if it was needed, of the imperative to watch more foreign films. .