|© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
|L to R: Malik Zidi as Eloi Duhaut and
Thibault Vinçonn as André Morney
in POISON FRIENDS
(Les amitiés maléfiques)
Photo Credit: Strand Releasing
Think back and recall if you might have had an
acquaintance or pal who in retrospect turned
out to be less of a friend than you thought. If
not, you probably were quite lucky. If so, you
can easily relate to the figures in
Emmanuel Bourdieu's POISON FRIENDS (Les
Bourdieu's film is set at a French university
where André Morney (Thibault Vinçon) is a sort
of Big Man on Campus. He is the favorite of
Professor Mortier (Jacques Bonnaffé) and
exerts his influence over a trio of younger
students, Eloi Duhaut (Malik Zidi), whose
mother (Dominique Blanc) is a famous novelist,
Alexandre Pariente (Alexandre Steiger), an
aspiring playwright and actor, and Franchon
(Thomas Blanchard), who hopes for a literary
career. To Morney, literary pursuits are an
anathema. He is always invoking a quote
attributed to Karl Kraus: "Why do some write?
Because they are too weak not to." For
Morney, that is a life lesson.
His influence gradually infects the trio of pals.
Franchon is dismissed early over the
publication of a story in a literary magazine,
partly because he wanted to impress an
attractive librarian named Marguerite (Natacha
Regnier). Instead, Morney moves in and begins
a relationship with Marguerite, although it is
not beneath him to sabotage her writing
efforts. Eventually, Morney begins to unravel.
After a bad confrontation with Professor
Mortier, he tells his buddies that he is off to
America to study James Ellroy. Instead, he
ends up in the French countryside teaching
literature at an army base.
Morney is the kind of person who sucks up all
the life and energy in a room and makes
everything about him. Once he leaves their
lives, Eloi begins to realize the detrimental
effect he has had.
There are some schematics at work in the
screenplay, but the film proves to be an
entertaining, if frustrating, experience. There
are no easy answers provided by Bourdieu and
some audience members will be disappointed
Running time: 100 mins.