Friday, 3 April 2015

REVIEW - THE KIDNAPPING OF MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ (GUILLAUME NICLOUX)


There's nothing so absurd as the banal. I wonder what M. Houellebecq makes of his dip, or rather his head-first dive into film. Is its comedy too broad, or nowhere near vulgar enough? Is its social commentary accurate, or immature? Is its accessibility a silly triviality, or a charming virtue, or is The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq even accessible at all? Guillaume Nicloux's film's duelling idiosyncrasies keep it fresh and buoyant throughout, thus that as the premise wears ever thinner, the scenarios become ever richer. Nicloux develops an enclosed environment that is somehow far more expansive than that in which his subject starts this film, itself a curious combination of spaces both formidably bare and uncomfortably cramped. If the notion of a film extolling elemental human attributes and values is gauche and overplayed, Nicloux does more to prove his point than most filmmakers, and in far more persuasive style: as the relationships upon which The Kidnapping... is based grow in depth and detail, the characters gradually revealing their truest nature whether wittingly or not, the film itself grows in intelligence and, crucially, enjoyability. The meta aspect of Michel playing himself is gratifyingly shrugged off, mainly employed to enhance the philosophical content of the film to those attuned to it, and to aid the sense of verisimilitude that's so unexpectedly well-mastered here. Whatever M. Houellebecq makes of this enterprise, and no doubt he makes very much of it one way or another, his involvement alone marks a seal of approval that's easy to comprehend.