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Monday, April 19, 2010

LA QUESTION HUMAINE / HEARTBEAT DETECTOR (2007)


This existential corporate thriller is both maddening & engrossing. (It’s French.) It’s a handsome piece of filmmaking that uses it’s multi-layered plot and richly textured characters to commingle dark thoughts about company downsizing & genocide that never convince. The ideas can’t support the last act revelations or the attempt to cross-pollinate LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD/’61, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD/’65, EXECUTIVE SUITE/’54 and MAD MEN/’08. But then, those who aren’t up for the mind meld helmer Nicolas Klotz & scripter Elisabeth Perceval are aiming at will have long dropped out. Matthieu Almaric is superb as the company psychologist who’s failing to deal with his own personal crises when he’s confidentially assigned to make out a report on his CEO. Played by Michael Lonsdale as a powerful, phlegmatic tortoise of a man, this CEO is either going thru a nervous breakdown or being set up to take a fall by the new company owners. Maybe both. The artsy style is never going to satisfy those looking for solid evidence & narrative closure, but the melancholy tone is very compelling, as is the unusually imaginative use of source music to lend emotional weight. An odd duck of a film, but rewarding.

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