In Teddi Lussi-Modeste’s cliched take on fame, Tahar Rahim plays a famous comedian subverted by his most trusted adviser — his brother.
While it’s generally not essential for a film about a successful creative character to get their job right, there’s something conspicuous about the hottest stand-up comedian in France never once saying anything funny. In “The Price of Success,” a a cliche-larded drama about celebrity malaise, Tahar Rahim, best known for his galvanizing turn in “A Prophet,” stars as a blockbuster comic who sells out arenas but seems incapable of making people laugh. It doesn’t help that the film bears so much similarity to Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” a funny drama by and about one of the world’s premier stand-ups. The absence of humor here feeds into the perversive inauthenticity that dogs the action. Rahim remains a magnetic leading man, but original insights into fame, family and ethnic identity are few and far between.
In his second feature, co-writer/director Teddy Lussi-Modeste (“Jimmy Riviere”) plays up the carnival-of-life craziness that engulfs a French comedian of North African origin at a crucial point in his career. For the mono-monikered Brahim (Rahim), life at the top has earned him a luxurious apartment, endorsements and movie deals, as well as a beautiful girlfriend, Linda (Maiwenn), who’s eager to help him move to the next level. But the demands of his fan base and his family are wearing him down, and a recent series of bad headlines and management decisions have left him spinning his wheels and worrying about the future. He starts to blame his tempestuous brother, Mourad (Roschdy Zem), who has served as his agent, manager, bodyguard and sounding board from the very beginning.
When Brahim was a young talent on the rise, Mourad was his loyal and aggressive advocate, but lately his brother has been throwing impromptu rowdy parties at his apartment, picking fights with adversaries and signing him to commercials and other projects that aren’t worthy of his superstar status. On top of that, Mourad has been treating Linda as more of a threat than a partner in steering Brahim’s career — and a more polished agent, Herve (Gregoire Colin), has swooped into his life, promising new opportunities and a steadier hand. The inevitable rift between Brahim and Mourad has a terrible fallout for both men and leaves…