The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq ★★★½

Michel Houellebecq, gnome-like and gnomic, opining that Mozart is moronic and Le Corbusier a total disaster. He smokes holding the cigarette between his middle and ring fingers, like a dandy, and dreams of naked women with their legs splayed. His kidnappers start discussing him among themselves ("He's a fragile guy," says one; yes, but "he's learned to live with his fears," notes another), then chat to him about body-building, Tolkien, the structure of alexandrines, the concept of Poland, the best place to eat kidneys. You do nothing, get a little bored and then things just come to you, says the man himself, explaining his creative process - and something similar may be said of this amiable shaggy-dog story, which offers very little beyond the central dynamic (it's even a little boring), spurring the audience to creative speculation. Who's paying the ransom? Is there a Mr. Big? Is it even possible, as someone suggests, that Houellebecq staged the whole thing himself, as a stunt or an adventure? Amusingly played - Stockholm Syndrome in reverse - and the sour-faced, querulous author is a great character, despite being a possible racist, misanthrope and degenerate; though actually because of.

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