Les Particules élémentaires


Oskar Roehler :: Germany :: 2006 :: 1h53

Two half brothers, Michael and Bruno, abandoned as children by their hippie mother, struggle to form loving relationships. Michael remained faithful to his childhood first love, one he could never act on out of a mixture of cowardice and fear of abandonment. His half-brother whose past is so outlandish the character has no idea how to deal with himself other than walking into a psychiatric ward. Two brothers are left to their own devices, but neither is really strong enough to bear the weight.

It is mostly Bruno’s tale, rather than the virginal innocence and weakness of Michael, that dominate this film. The level of ridicule of Bruno’s life exceeds most other characters in other films, but none the less brought to you somewhat convincingly by actor Moritz Bleibtreu, although it is hard not to laugh at the absurdity of the events we are supposed to believe. At some point we reach Volaire’s ‘Candide’-point, where you just wonder what other proof will be brought on stage to illustrate that life is a slow-moving catastrophe. My favorite, however, did not come from Bruno but from the disastrous life of the first love of his brother Michael. Her first (post-prom) relationship left her after two years to join a satanic sect and ended up mutilating and killing people (!?). The movie is a sequence of such tales leaving the psychologically unstable Bruno under -badly needed- medical care, and Michael finding love with his barren childhood sweetheart, excluding the possibility of an improved next generation.

Since the movie is based on Houellebecqs’ book, there is some obligation to take it seriously, further promoted by the ending of the film which adds some textual fast-forward into the rest of the characters lives suggesting it is a true story. The complete absurdity of the ‘how can we make it worse’ attitude which dominates, makes interpretations equally absurd, but we will hand it over none the less: A society which deviates from the loving nuclear family renders people anchor-less, free floating elements in the winds of their time, ever-processing the wounds left behind from their stagnated psychological development. Whether or not you are willing to sit through the movie for this is up to you, but be reassured that it is technically well made and acted. Quite an accomplishment considering the script.



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