A surprise hot ticket at every festival that it screens at, this one-of-a-kind gem has left critics trying to trace its roots in everything from Jacques Tati for its hilarious visual wit to Bad Santa for making comic protagonists out of an ill-tempered pair who make everyone else miserable. Gus (Gustave Kervern, who also wrote and co-directed) is a hot-under-the-white-collar manager and his neighbor Ben (Benoit Delépine, his collaborator in the creation of this film) is a slovenly, lazy farmer. Their mutual loathing leads to a brawl in the midst of which they are crushed under the mechanism of Ben's tractor, and left paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of their lives. Condemned to each other's company, as well as to wheelchairs, they set off on an odyssey of revenge, determined to get reparations from the manufacturer-Finnish-based Aaltra-of the equipment they blame for their fate. The film's intransigent wit and mordant humor are close cousins to the work of a certain famed Finn who turns in a shaggy dog cameo in the final sequence.
Since 1980, Benoît Delépine has been active as a copywriter and actor. He worked for France's Canal Plus pay TV channel, on the programs Les Guignols de L'info and Grolandsat. Aaltra is Delephine's first feature direction. Gustave Kervern has worked on numerous television programs, including Grolandsat, and has performed in Le Plain de Super, a rock music show. Kervern's previous films include a 1996 short titled A l'arrache and the 1998 feature Michael contre la World News Company. The two directors met each other five years ago on the set of Grolandsat. When Delépine and Kevern worked together on the comic series Toc, toc, toc and later met highly acclaimed French cult feature director, Maurice Pialat, he convinced the duo to make films together.