Kings of the scam: when reality goes beyond fiction [critique]

Between The Truth if I Lie, The Wolf of Wall Street and an episode of Strip-Tease, Guillaume Nicloux’s docu is crazy!

Netflix went live in early November Kings of the Scam, a documentary about the crooks behind “the scam of the century”, imagined in 2008 when the carbon tax was implemented. A story already told by Olivier Marchal in Carbon (2017), a fiction freely inspired by this affair and carried by Benoît Magimel, but which turns out even crazier when it is narrated by its real “hero”. Mardoché “Marco” Mouly does not hesitate to relate his version of the facts, detailing with a puzzling patter his journey of “little scammer” from Belleville (“It was legal!”, he blurted out without batting an eyelid in the preamble, when we have just understood that he was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison) until a crook capable of stealing millions of euros from the French state . Character “bigger than life”, it reminds as much the chatters of The truth if I lie that the anti-heroes dreaming of greatness by Martin Scorsese, those of Freed and Wolf of Wall Street on your mind.

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Such a character, followed closely as in an episode of Striptease, alone justifies the creation of the documentary, the viewer quickly finding himself stunned by the chain of sequences, each more incredible and absurd than the next, before giving way to a more violent reality, the swindle taking on so much scope that the docu gradually turns into a bloody thriller, with its henchmen hired to assassinate opponents, as millions flow freely.
Malins, director Guillaume Nicloux (The Abduction of Michel Houellebecq, Valley of Love…) and screenwriter Olivier Bouchara (who here adapts his own survey to Vanity Fair) manage moreover not to lose too much the public by explaining the scams in a playful way, in the manner of The Big Short, by Adam McKay. Not with celebrity cameos, but with toys, for example a Lego train crossing the border carrying banknotes or a child explaining with a card how the various scammers were able to buy coins. “rights to pollute” anywhere in Europe, then resell them to a French company, taking care not to pay VAT. With 20% of profits guaranteed with each sale, the gains are fast, and substantial: the losses would amount to more than a billion and a half euros for the French government, which has recovered only a tiny part of it. (we are talking about hundreds of millions all the same) during the trial. At the European level, the same scam would have reported between 6 and 7 billion to its “brains”.
Even once this taste for excess is well installed in the mind of the spectator, we are surprised by the actions of Mouly, whether he launches into a rap to his glory or whether he tells the crazy Bar-mitzvahs organized by him. or its extremely wealthy partners for their children, who have nothing to envy to Coco, the colorful character invented by Gad Elmaleh – the latter appears in a gust of wind at a party, just like Garou, Cyril Hanouna, Puff Daddy or Pharrell Williams, all invited at great expense to entertain the guests.

After Tiger king, the Netflix series dedicated to another incredible but true character, the directors of the platform confirm more than ever their taste for documentaries “WTF”, where we spend most of the intrigue taken aback by the life choices of their protagonists outside the norm. In this register, Kings of the Scam is even more fascinating than its eldest, because it manages to question precisely the question of the true and the false about this being past master in tricks. By directly questioning Mouly on his contradictions and secrets (many elements of this affair have not yet been elucidated), Nicloux in fact paints the portrait of a man who has created a character for himself and who can no longer go back. . So when he’s openly accused of hiding facts, he gets angry, then claims a lie detector to “to prove” his innocence, knowing full well that this process, although very cinematographic, is absolutely not recognized by French justice. He knows it, the creators of the doc also, the public too … No one is fooled, but the show is fascinating. The truth if I lie, literally.

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