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In an old castle, Johnny de Winter-Smythe gives shelter to a mad painter, whom he martyrizes, helped by a hunchback butler. A traveler then arrives, drawn to the castle by the spectral apparition of a woman...
Henri Villedieu de Torcy
The film versions of Michel Houellebecq's novels are a sorry lot. The German filming of Elementary Particles comes out as a cheap TV movie, name actors notwithstanding. This film, helmed by the novelist himself, proves that the author may not be the smartest interpreter of his own work. If Mr. H. weren't a star, there's no way any producer would allow the release of his film in this shape. If you haven't read the book, I can't imagine what can you make of this abortion of a film.
In deciding what to include from the book Mr. H. chose to make do without the core part of the book, the story of the "contemporary" Daniel. This robs the remaining sci fi/cult conceit of any deeper meaning and the story of the future "neo-human" Daniel is worthless without its human contrapunt. He focused instead on the part taking place in the Canary Islands, which is the least essential for the whole story.
The actors are mostly well chosen for their types, but only if you know the book - they have almost nothing to do in the movie. I wonder why I am giving it even 3 stars - perhaps for some impressive sceneries and for one or two dialogs that work. The result reminds anybody who would forget that cinematic storytelling is a craft as well as art, and you can't break the rules of the craft without consequence.
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