While Max (Maxime Lefrançois) is lifting dumbbells waiting for the kidnapping, he is reciting to himself lines from the third act of Lorenzaccio, by Alfred De Musset. See more »
A comedy of boredom
The premise of this film sounded so interesting: author Michel Houellebecq plays himself, and attempts to explain a period in 2011 when he went missing for several days, by creating a fictionalised kidnapping. The premise is amusingly twisted, and I was intrigued to see what they'd do with it.
Unfortunately, what they do with it is incredibly banal. Houellebecq gets kidnapped, is rather tame and pleasant to his captors, who are tame and pleasant in return, and then it's over.
It's meant to be a comedy, I suppose. There's something very surreal about the whole thing, quite apart from the conceit of the film. Every scene is so humdrum that it clashes against the situation the author is in. Houellebecq is calm to the point of boredom, as though it's every day he gets held to ransom. We follow pointless conversations about H. P. Lovecraft's saliva-soaked pillow and whether or not the author can have a lighter for his cigarettes please. One slightly interesting sequence involves his captors teaching Houellebecq some MMA techniques to stave off their own boredom, but it's only a pale glow in an otherwise grey fog.
Boredom is the watchword of this film, and as much as it tries to extract humour from just how mundane it is, it just ends up being incredibly tedious to watch. In addition, at a level above merely watching it, there's something superficially narcissistic about Houellebecq's portrayal of himself—I know that as an author he's supposed to be controversial, but I didn't really care enough about the film to really get engaged—at an academic level I thought it was incredibly shallow.
So this ended up one of those films that I hated through boredom rather than through the type of active hatred that can often be the result of something truly provocative. It was most of all a pointless film, and one that I'm afraid to say I wish I'd not bothered seeing.
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