The French community of filmmakers present us with yet another terribly adapted film: Hell, based on the book by Lolita Pille. As the book itself wasn't really fantastic to begin with, there was still something to make out of it: the sound, the fury, the depravity, the recklessness and immorality of the French XVI-district youth could have been brought to the screen into a film either better than the book, or at least just as entertaining. But here's the problem that prevents this film from being that film: everything. It's all done wrong from the start, beginning with the actors. As in the book the main characters are supposed to be parts of a so-called glamorized, sexy, attractive and unattainable youth, here the actors are obviously not in character, looking way too common to be the "angel" and the filthy rich low-morality "pétasse" that they are in the book. Sara Forestier is neither shot by the director in an attractive way, nor made to look attractive by makeup or other artifacts that are present in the book: she looks plain, and with her "gamine" looks, remains miles away from the manipulative girl that her character should be. Nicolas Duvauchelle lacks charisma, as he usually does in most films he's in, but also brings with him the feeling that he is miscast, looking more like a numb tattooed homie from the suburbs than like the pristine yet cultivated product of the rich quarters of Paris. The same can be said about other characters: while in the book they have an important position, in the film they are more than cast aside, and miscast too, most parts landing onto very common actors with little or no previous acting experience. The worst for last: the director. He also doesn't seem to have much experience, neither as a director or as a film enthusiast: it seems that his references are Chabrol, Rohmer and Godard, and while there's nothing really wrong with that, there is a world apart between the book and these directors. I couldn't help but think while I was watching the film of what a visionary and talented director like Darren Aronofsky would have done adapting the book, using exciting photography, brilliant camera moves, gifted actors even in small parts, etc. Here, Chiche ("scanty" in French) delivers an almost politically correct vision of a book that most relies on sex, debauchery, violence and lust, and takes a malignant pleasure in erasing all that makes the book enjoyable, including the climaxing scene at the end of the book which reminded me of Requiem for a Dream when I read it, and here is simply not even shown. This feels quite like turning on the radio and putting earplugs on, or leaving half-way through The Usual Suspects: it ruins all the fun. From the beginning to the end nothing in the film retells how the book feels, it looks like a cheap TV movie (most of it is shot with hand-held camera, "caméra à l'épaule" seems to be highly praised among French filmmakers nowadays). Where the books offers a scene in a night club with plenty of noise, drugs, manipulation, crowded with people and excitation, the film offers a one-shot scene in a cheap dancing joint with maybe no more than 15 extras, bad soundtrack, terrible photography, lame camera-work, etc. The whole film painfully lacks ideas or creativity whatsoever, is a total waste of money, means, and time - for those who made it and those who watched it. I advise to not watch this film if you enjoyed Requiem for a Dream or any film from a talented director pertaining to depraved youth, or maybe to read the book first and see how much of a shame this adaptation is.
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