On Tour (French: Tournée) is a 2010 French comedy film directed by Mathieu Amalric. It stars Amalric himself as a producer who brings an American Neo-Burlesque troupe to France, played by genuine performers Mimi Le Meaux, Kitten on the Keys, Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz, Evie Lovelle and Roky Roulette. In a road movie narrative, the plot follows the troupe as they tour French port cities with their show, which was performed for actual audiences during the production. The inspiration for the film was a book by Colette about her experience from music halls in the early 20th century, and a part of Amalric's aim was to translate the sentiment of the book to a modern setting.
The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Award, the festival's main prize from film critics. Amalric also received the Best Director Award.
Formerly successful television producer Joachim Zand returns from America to his native France, where he previously has left everything behind, including friends, enemies and his own children. In his company is a burlesque striptease troupe whom he has promised a grand performance in Paris.
Together they tour the French port cities, staying at cheap hotels and making success along the way. Old conflicts are however reignated upon the return to the French capital. Joachim is betrayed by people from his past, making him lose the venue where they were to perform, and the Paris finale comes to nothing.
The idea for the film came from the 1913 book The Other Side of Music-Hall by Colette, a collection of texts written for a newspaper about her life during a music hall tour in the French provinces. The project started around the same time as the suicide of independent film producer Humbert Balsan, which also had made an impression on Amalric. "I'm fascinated by producers. I always wonder how they manage to keep going and take such responsibility. ... So these different themes came together and I invented a story about a French TV producer and the women who were courageous enough to come to France with him." In the early drafts of the screenplay, Amalric struggled with the context of the story, figuring whether he would be able to put early 20th century vaudeville in a present-day setting, or attach the sentiment of Colette's book to modern striptease. Then he read an article in Libération about the American Neo-Burlesque movement, where performers mix striptease with comedy and a resistance to social pressures, and Amalric saw a connection to what Colette had been doing. The narrative was written before any further research was made, as Amalric did not want the film to be too much like a documentary. The first time he saw a Neo-Burlesque show was in 2007, in Nantes. He says that he did not mention the film project to the performers, but spent the following three days in their company. Later on he went to the United States to see as many shows as possible and study the movement in detail.
The film was produced by Les Films du Poisson for a budget of 3.52 million Euro, including co-production support from Arte France, German company Neue Mediopolis and an advance on receipts from the National Center of Cinematography and the moving image. The director originally envisioned Portuguese producer Paulo Branco in the role of Joachim, but decided to cast himself only weeks before filming started. Amalric still wore a moustache throughout the film that was based on Branco's facial hair.
Filming started in April 2009 and lasted two months. The troupe went on an actual tour along French port cities in order to provide the necessary footage. Hundreds of local extras performed as themselves as audiences. Locations were used in Le Havre, La Rochelle, Nantes, Rochefort, and Paris. For the visual style Amalric drew inspiration from American cinema of the 1970s, and in particular The Killing of a Chinese Bookie by John Cassavetes.
Directed by: Mathieu Amalric.
Produced by: Yaël Fogiel - Laetitia Gonzalez.
Written by: Mathieu Amalric - Philippe Di Folco - Marcelo Novais Teles.
Cinematography: Christophe Beaucarne.
Release date(s): 13 May 2010 (Cannes) - 30 June 2010 (France).
Language: French - English.