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Young Bastien is very pleased when his hugely successful TV producer boss Jean-Louis Broustal begins to recognize him for his talents and then invites him to his country house for the weekend to work on a new show. But gradually it becomes clear that no work is going to be done. In fact, Broustal and his much younger pretty wife seem to want Bastien for something very different than for his television talents. But can he accept their offer? Can he afford not to? Things go awry and lead to a taut and frenzied finish. Written by
Martin Lewison <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Either it is in France, Great-Britain or in the USA, nearly every big actor felt one day or another to take a turn behind the camera to show their potential as a director. Guillaume Canet, a young charismatic actor added his name to this list which keeps on extending. With "mon idole" (2002), his first long feature movie is strongly rooted in the contemporary reality with the following topics: the hypnotic power of television on the public and the relations of manipulation. However, this exercise of style leaves a bitter taste in the mouth after the vision even if the result is far from being uninteresting.
Do you remember professor Castro's leitmotiv in Alejandro Amenabar's thriller "Tesis" (1996) (We must give the public what he demands...). The professor thought of the violence. Today, the public wants not only violence but also daring TV shows pushed to the voyeurism. The satire is well here at the beginning of the movie during the TV show. Moreover, later the film contains a significant detail: Jean Louis Broustal breeds vultures. The metaphor is obvious. Nowadays, TV shows, especially TV reality occupy an enormous place in our lives and it can be source of wealth and respectability for the ones who run them. Besides, Canet seizes the opportunity to deride them. The sequence when Broustal, his wife and a friend of them are dancing in the living-room dressed in silly costumes constitutes a good example. It wouldn't be fair to call Broustal's wife a grown-up because she is still a child deep inside her. As for Broustal, all in all he is an eternal pampered child who only thinks of having fun. Now to come back to the starting point, Bastien (Guillaume Canet is an ambitious young man who would like to climb the ladder in television. He has a project for the telly and he presents it to his manager Jean Louis Broustal (François Berléand). It is useful to add that Bastien is widely impressed by this apparently serious man. Broustal is interested by Bastien's plan and decides to invite him in his country house in the country for the week-end. But Bastien is going to find out that his real motivations are drastically different from Broustal's.
It is quite easy to guess Canet's major inspirations. His movie finds itself half-way between "Masques" (1987) by Claude Chabrol for the setting, the first part of the story, the food and the cinema of the Coen brothers for the caustic tone. There are also strong echoes of "une étrange affaire" (1981) by Pierre Granier-Deferre. Canet seems to be film-loving to the core. He has also had intuition for the cast. Having hired François Berléand, a largely underrated French actor with a rich filmography was a good idea. Furthermore, him and Canet are well followed by the rest of the cast. The satire is quite fierce, the situations are comical, the actors feel visibly at ease in their respective roles. So, what is wrong with "mon idole"? Well, first Canet's opus appears a little hesitating because it wavers between comedy, drama and detective movie and as a consequence the young director has difficulty to find a unity and a lasting tone. Actually, the first part of the movie is the most successful. Gradually, we feel the suspense rising and Broustal's real intentions are taking shape. Roughly, we discover that Canet offers us a farce. Problem: it happens in the middle of the film and has strong chances to run out of steam quite quickly. So in order to restart the interest of the spectator, Canet tries his hand at black humor (the moment when Broustal's wife is involuntarily killing Broustal's friend) and it is where the movie goes awry. In a way, the young director artificially furnished the second part of the movie and it involves a lack of cohesion to the whole. As a result, Canet wanders from his subject and his movie has difficulty to hold water.
What can we say about his making? It alternates the best and the worst. There's a careful work on light and the scenery but Canet doesn't avoid the flashy effects like to prove his master of making.
But if there's a thing in the film that is spoiled ,it is the music. About it, "mon idole" has a common feature with Cameron Crowe's movie "Vanilla Sky" (2001): both present a badly used and sometimes too intrusive music. Maybe Canet's work is worse because a few songs in it by the feelings they bring out haven't got their place in a story like this one. At the end of the movie we hear "Abraham, Martin and John"! What did Canet think of when he wrote this sequence? That's a real disgrace from Canet.
Let's also regret a somewhat unsuccessful end because Canet couldn't use a thing that could have kicked the bull's eye: immorality.
So, "mon idole" is an interesting but heterogeneous work which could have been much better. It's a shame for Guillaume Canet. But if he wants to shoot a second movie maybe will he correct his mistakes.
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