Fill ‘er Up with Super Blu-ray Review: A Down-to-Earth Meditation of Male Bonding and Bruised Masculinity

I always enjoy simple films about the flaws of human beings and how their insecurities and toxicities are made bare and exposed. These films showcase people at their worst but also reveal the vulnerabilities of why they are that way. French filmmaker Alain Cavalier’s 1976 low-key but relatable Fill ‘er Up with Super is one of best and most prime examples of this kind of film.

Klouk (Bernard Crombey) is a hapless car salesman who has to miss his in-laws’ wedding anniversary (and bare the judgment of his wife) to deliver a luxury car to his boss’ wealthy new client. He decides to take his friend Philippe (Xavier Saint-Macary) along with him on this road trip. Along the way, they pick up hitchhiker Charles (Etienne Chicot), who brings his friend Daniel (Patrick Bouchitey) with him.

What begins as an uncomfortable trip for the four of them develops into an excursion for each man to emotionally expose and reveal their own personal truths and inner demons, along with lots of dirty jokes. With this, they forge a temporary foursome that may or may not change their lives forever.

There’s a very natural and stripped-down feel to this that most films about unexpected friendships don’t often have. It makes sense since all four actors were actually friends with Cavalier and wrote the script, away from studio interference, which makes it even more honest. The conversations (which range from raunchy to poignant) have are real and seem like the ones that many men really have. Yes, there are female characters (played by Nathalie Baye, Catherine Meurisse, Valerie Quennessen, and Beatrice Agenin) in the film and are the catalysts for the men’s behavior, but they aren’t really as important as the four men at the center.

This film is filled with misadventures and moments that bring out the complex humanity of typical male misbehavior: Charles and Philippe trashing his ex-wife’s apartment and peeing on her bed; Charles and Daniel putting hash in Klouk’s lunch, which makes him spazz out and high; the men meeting Charles’ son, who also has his own penchant for nasty jokes; Philippe’s encounter with an older man who pays him to take a shower so he watch (but not touch); the four men visiting a church and Philippe loudly joins in a song being sung by the choir; the men being egged by little kids; and Daniel faking his suicide. These and other scenes paint a matter-of-fact portrait of life’s events.

There isn’t much of a narrative to this film but that’s not a detriment. There doesn’t need to be one. It’s a down-to-earth meditation of male bonding and bruised masculinity that really deserves so much rediscovery.

The Blu-ray release from Radiance has a new interview with Crombey; three short documentaries by Cavalier: My Wife Lives in Fear, It’s a Full House, and The King of the Bottle, all starring Crombey, Chicot, and Bouchitey; and a new appreciation by Charlotte Garson, deputy editor of Cahiers du Cinema. There’s also a booklet with new essays by Murielle Joudet and Évelyne Caron-Lowins, as well as an excerpt from a 2011 interview with Cavalier, that also contains stills, cast and crew information, transfer verbiage and disc credits.

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