EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|POISON FRIENDS (LES AMITIES MALEFIQUES) (director/writer: Emmanuel Bourdieu; screenwriter: Marcia Romano; cinematographer: Yorick Le Saux; editor: Benoit Quinon; music: Grégoire Hetzel; cast: Malik Zidi (Eloi Duhaut), Thibault Vinçon (André Morney), Alexandre Steiger (Alexandre Pariente), Thomas Blanchard (Edouard Franchon), Dominique Blanc (Florence Duhaut), Natacha Régnier (Marguerite), Jacques Bonnaffé (Professor Mortier), Botum Dupuis (Alice), Françoise Gillard (Suzanne); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating:NR; producers: Mani Martazavi/David Mathieu-Mahias/Yorick Le Saux; Strand Releasing; 2006-France- in French with English subtitles)|
much too tidy insightful clinical tale about
students dealing with academic life and the pains of
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A much too tidy insightful
clinical tale about students dealing with academic life
and the pains of growing up, that's filled with cloying
literary pretensions. It's written and directed by
former French philosophy professor Emmanuel Bourdieu,
the writer of Arnaud Desplechin's My Sex Life... or How
I got into an argument (1996) and Esther Kahn
At an unnamed Paris university (probably the Sorbonne!), on the first day of class,
aspiring author Eloi (Malik Zidi) and aspiring
playwright turned aspiring actor Alexandre (Alexandre
Steiger) come under the spell of the know-it-all
charismatic André (Thibault Vinçon) and
hang together for the rest of the semester. André's favorite
said often, is from the Austrian essayist Karl Kraus:
"people write "because they are too weak not to write,"
as the glib student poses as the voice of pure art. He
also loves telling his disciples "Trust me, shallow
modernism is in." The two impressionable and
insecure students rely on André's guidance to get them by in
school. Eloi, whose mom Florence (Dominique Blanc) is
a famous novelist, is
influenced by André
to do his dissertation on the American novelist James
Ellroy ("He's the great one," André boldly states
in a way that demands no retort). Even André's respected veteran
literature teacher Mortier (Jacques
author of a scholarly book on Ellroy no longer
published, is fooled by André's
uncompromising intellectual stand about writing and
considers him his prize student.
André shows a mean streak putting down in a nasty tone those he disagrees with and considers inferior; he also steals the potential girlfriend of the timid Eloi, as he boldly courts the attractive school librarian Margaret (Natacha Régnier) and in a jealous snit erases the computer file of her short story; and he spitefully tries to ruin the relationship of Alexandre with his girlfriend (Botum Dupuis).
Things unravel when the
professor, tired of being falsely flattered, is
displeased with André's
efforts at a thesis and removes himself from being his
mentor. Unable to face this disgrace of rejection, André tells his pals
the professor got him into the esteemed exchange
program at Berkeley and he's off to America to write a
literary review for the professor. When the truth is
revealed in this coming-of-age drama and André's bubble has
been punctured, he's now viewed as a shallow loser.
points out how one needs to outgrow hero worship and
rely on one's own skills, which seems to be too
obvious a life lesson.
Everything about the film, from its dry humor
to its portrait of the sociopath behavior of André to its
attempts at suspense to its moralistic take on frauds,
seemed too forced and sterile--the only thing that
moved about this production was its unswerving belief
that words are important.
REVIEWED ON 3/22/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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