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Linus de Paoli [Film Festival 08.12.09] France movie review apocalyptic drama romance

Year: 2009
Directors: Arnaud Larrieu & Jean-Marie Larrieu
Writers: Arnaud Larrieu & Jean-Marie Larrieu & Dominique Noguez (novel)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Linus de Paoli
Rating: 4 out of 10

The Locarno Film festival is getting weirder every day. If you think the Piazza Grande is reserved for divine art house cinema, check this out! Before the screening of “Les Derniers Jours Du Monde”, two trailers for the new Pokémon movie were screened on the Piazza Grande and Shoko Nakagawa, the incarnation of a hentai girl, performed the title song. As if that hadn’t been enough, she was accompanied by Pikachu, himself – who also gave an interview: “Pika, Pika, Pika!!!”… The audience was not amused.

Shortly after the beginning of the Larrieu Brothers’ latest achievement it started to rain and thunder on the Piazza, so I saw most of the film from my refuge under the arcades and I stayed until the end. From everything I’ve heard or seen before, I had high hopes to see an extraordinary film: A love story that evolves around the apocalypse with a realistic approach – wow! But although that is pretty much what the film is, it could not live up to my expectations.

Some words about the story: While the world is coming to an end, bon vivant Robinson only has one thing on his mind: how can he find Laetitia and get her back? He and his wife Chloe parted after he confessed his affair with that wild and slightly boyish woman, but he doesn’t care. The day Laetitia is brutally taken away from him, the world literally starts to fall apart - A worldwide war breaks out. In order to see Laetitia again, Robinson goes on a journey that leads him through different staged of the catastrophe and into the arms of several women…

If you’re looking for an apocalyptic inferno ala "Deep Impact" or "The Day After Tomorrow" you will probably be disappointed. The Larrieu Brothers’ film begins as a very realistic scenario of what the last days of earth (which is he direct translation of the original title) may look like: normal. People try to live with the situation; they shower, go out, have regular conversations and mundane individual problems. The classy and smooth photography creates a down to earth and realistic feeling. No handheld shots, wild editing or other stylizations. No unnecessary action, no pretentious music, no fantastic elements. The few visual FX blend in perfectly: Robinson has an artificial hand that he sometimes has to take off – it looks so real, that you don’t even try to find out how they did it.

Of course it’s not possible to ignore the upcoming catastrophe; the beaches are contaminated, the city is running out of supplies and it is raining ashes. Sometimes we get to hear news from the Radio like: “A nuclear bomb was dropped on Moscow” or “Paris has been evacuated, the new capital of France is Toulouse”. For a long time, that’s all we get to hear or see from the war.

This may sound like a trick to keep the budget down, which is not the case at all: Although we are never in the actual warzone, the production value is incredible! The film was shot in France, Spain and Taiwan and is packed with complex sequences in which thousands of extras are running for their lives in evacuations! Hundreds of sets were decorated absolutely magnificently. It appears the filmmakers could get what ever they wanted. It’s too bad they didn’t make more of it!

Everything I said so far probably didn't sound so bad and it could be an outstanding film if it had just one thing: a better script! What starts off promising gets more and more absurd as the script starts to follow some “porn-logic” that not even the French can get away with. Everybody wants to sleep with Robinson and although he is on a quest for his one true love, he doesn’t miss a chance to get laid. Everyone who has sexual contact with Robinson dies shortly afterwards. But why? The apocalyptic war seems to be a weird metaphor – but for what? Most events remain without consequences and seem so absurd that I couln't help think that this is most likely just some vain male fantasy.

The actors do a pretty good job, but the pointlessness of the film can’t be denied or hidden under frequent (mostly casual) male and female frontal nudity. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not the sex scenes that bother me – it’s the absence of sense. Robinson stumbles from situation to situation and although it is the end of the world, he doesn’t seem very targeted on finding Laeticia, as long as anything else is going on. If the structure was clearly epic, one might find it interesting to just drift along with him - but the film features too many dramatic devices to fit in that category.

Another problem is its length: 130 minutes is definitely too long. At many points in the movie I wish it would of ended. But it didn’t, just to show an ending that is much weaker than some of the scenes before. Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu co-directed as usual and also wrote the script, so then can be made fully responsible for this nonsense. The strange but consequent highlight of the film is the shelter, which Robinson reaches close to the end. A decadent celebration of the downfall with alcohol and – of course – sex.

Maybe I’m wrong and this is a masterpiece that I’m just not ready for yet. It is worth a look for the so far unique "endzeit" feeling and the impressive production. The film did not bore me, but it remains diffuse what it is trying to tell us.

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Anonymous (13 years ago) Reply

Damn... I was hoping this would be cool

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