Archive for April 29th, 2011

1911, journalist, novelist, socialite and adventurer Adèle Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin) is in Egypt searching for a Pharaoh’s mummified doctor that she hopes professor Espérandieu (Jacky Nercessian) can resurrect, why? That will become clear later. Meanwhile back home in Paris the professor is practicing his skills by hatching a 136 million year old pterodactyl egg. After surviving a spectacular confrontation with rival “tomb-raider” Dieuleveult (an unrecognisable but brilliant Mathieu Amalric) Adèle returns home to find the pterodactyl wreaking havoc and the professor imprisoned. Our heroine must rescue the professor in order to complete her very personal mission.

Based on a mixture of two stories from the comic-book series by Jacques Tardi’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is the latest movie from French filmmaker Luc Besson. Comparisons to Indiana Jones and Lara Croft are inevitable and understandable, with the combination of action and fantasy the comparison is fair but only tells half the story. Adèle Blanc-Sec is a totally bonkers movie and is very French, these are good things if you were wondering! By Hollywood standards the CGI is a little ropy at times but this is easily forgotten amongst the stunning and sumptuous vision of early 20th century Paris created by director Luc Besson and long-time collaborators Production Designer Hugues Tissandier and Cinematographer Thierry Arbogast. When you look at his back catalogue (including: Subway, The Big Blue, Nikita, Leon, The Fifth Element, Joan of Arc, Angel-A and Arthur and the Invisibles) you can hardly say director Luc Besson has a stereotypical or definitive style, but this movie is a departure even for him! Looking more like a film made by Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Terry Gilliam.

Despite the absurdity of the plot and the characters, the cast play it straight, in what should be a bizarre train wreck of a movie but strangely and to Besson’s credit it really works. Resulting in a movie that is charming, fun and funny. The same is true of the character, Adèle Blanc-Sec; Dealing with shy would-be suitor Andrej Zborowski (Nicolas Giraud), hapless policeman Inspecteur Albert Caponi (Gilles Lellouche) and big-game hunter (Jean-Paul Rouve) with the same pout, Gallic Shrug and look of distain, Adèle comes across as adorable when she should really be annoying, this is largely thanks to the delightful Louise Bourgoin.

The film is not completely without flaw, at its heart is an often slapstick comedy of errors that could have been aimed squarely at children but it never feels like a kids film. This is emphasised by a brief glimpse of nudity that may have felt out of place or even gratuitous if not in a French film. The greatest success of the movie is the casting of Louise Bourgoin who is brilliant in the title role. I don’t think the film is strong enough to make her as iconic as Audrey Tautou’s Amélie or Anne Parillaud’s Nikita but it isn’t far off.

Not the best film I have seen this year but certainly the most fun and one I would like to see more of. Given the fact that the movie is already in profit before it is released in the lucrative North American Market suggests we may see more of Adèle Blanc-Sec.

Four Stars out of Five


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