The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq ★★★★

The "greatest living French author"* and my personal favorite (since way before he was known as such) goes missing for several days in the middle of a book tour and no one knows why. We all suspect he went on a bender, but here he stars in a movie where he gets kidnapped during that time--and while handcuffed he drinks so much his kidnappers even tell him to slow down! In his own way, this guy really knows how to cultivate an author's mystique.

He's got some great lines in this film, too, very much like in his books. "The problem with the piano is you can play it badly, not like with the violin. Piano is too accessible." "[On the inspiration to write novels] The trick is to do absolutely nothing--total inactivity." "Poland is not a real country--it's an idea that is fairly recent in the twentieth century."

Watching where this movie evolves is so great--you can't possibly know what to expect, anything can happen. There's a scene where Michel Houellebecq meets a black woman in a park and hands her a large amount of cash. Then she tells him the kids miss him. He seems vaguely surprised--are they his kids? No explanation is provided--not even in another scene, where he gets so drunk with his own kidnappers over dinner they end up with masks on arguing violently about "Lord of the Rings," then getting emotional about fatherhood. "Are you a father? Do you have kids?" Houellebecq's evasive answer is as good a placeholder as any for the answer to your inevitable questions: "Is this movie real? What does it all mean? Is any of it true?"

If, like me, you've been wondering about the odd way he smokes his cigarette between his ring and middle finger then worry not, the answer is here. Or is it?

*I heard him introduced that way on "Le Petit Journal" last year.

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