Elementary Particles: A bold adaptation of Michel Houellebecq’s novel [critique]

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Elementary Particles - France 2
Thierry Valletoux – Incognita Television

France 2 is broadcasting its new unit tonight, divided into two parts, with Guillaume Gouix and Jean-Charles Clichet.

“Life is always a little disgusting” said Michel Djerzinski to his lover Annabelle after showing her his first cloning experiments on a frog. A mantra that surrounds the new movieAntoine Garceau, two-part television adaptation of Michel Houellebecq’s novel Elementary Particles, broadcast this evening for the first time on France 2 at 9:05 p.m.

Thalasso – Guillaume Nicloux: “The film is based on the trust that Houellebecq and Depardieu have in me”

Taking up the plot of the novel, this adaptation produced by Incognita and Story Television recounts the childhood and then the adulthood of the half-brothers Michel and Bruno. Born of a whimsical and very sexually liberated mother, they begin their life without knowing each other, before maintaining a very close relationship once the meeting is over. Related by blood, the two brothers are complete opposites. Michel, the scientist, only has eyes for his research and hopes to develop a cloning method that prevents filiation and death. Bruno, for his part, is obsessed with sex and maintains an unhealthy relationship with his sexuality and his mother (Oedipus when you hold us). Facing them are the two women in their lives: Annabelle, forever in love with Michel, and Janine, the mother of the two boys.

Tortured analysis of society, Elementary Particles shocked its readership when it was released in 1998. A shock that lasts, and which should be repeated in the face of the single broadcast on France 2, as the film is unexpected in relation to the editorial line of the channel with regard to his films shown in prime time. Grouping to his cast Pascale Arbillot, Deborah François, Jean-Charles Clichet, Guillaume Gouix, Michel Vuillermoz, Liliane Rovere and Patrick Mille, this unitary is the second image of Houellebecq’s novel, after Oskar Roehler’s film released in 2006 (Silver Bear for Best Actor).

In this adaptation, no clumsiness, and even those uninitiated in the literature of Houellebecq will appreciate the picture drawn by the characters, written by Gilles Taurand and filmed by Antoine Garceau. Torturing and tearing each other apart for nearly two hours (2 x 60′), they end up rebuilding themselves like real particles, a kind of free electrons. Guided by their basic needs, the characters of Michel, Bruno and Annabelle are neither good nor bad, and underline the ambiguity of the world. Neurotic, obsessed, as ugly as they are beautiful, the two brothers are so well embodied by Guillaume Gouix (Bruno) and Jean-Charles Clichet (Michel) that we can’t blame them, despite the grotesque and sometimes the horror of their life. And horror there is.

Childhood traumas, insults, inappropriate behavior and neglected sentimentality, Elementary Particles by Antoine Garceau is a raw unitarian who looks the dirty in the eye. Here, the interest is not to hide the truth but to show everything from reality. Nudity is everywhere, the inappropriate too, but not bad taste: there is nothing dirty in life, even if Michel Djerzinski could say the opposite. And in the face of ugliness, beauty always arises. Especially where you least expect it.

Elementary Particles, by Antoine Garceau, with Jean-Charles Clichet, Guillaume Gouix, Pascale Arbillot and Déborah François. Broadcast tonight on France 2 at 9:05 p.m.

Jean-Paul Rouve in the adaptation of Submission by Michel Houellebecq

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