‘News From Planet Mars': Berlin Review

Dominik Moll (‘With a Friend Like Harry…’) unveils his fifth underline during a Berlinale.

Exploring a heavy bromance identical to that of his strike sophomore feature, With a Friend Like Harry…, nonetheless one with a really opposite outcome and tone, writer-director Dominik Moll delivers another offbeat Gallic dramedy in News From Planet Mars (Des nouvelles de la planete Mars), a softly comical mid-life predicament tale whose clever performances can’t overcome a unfolding that piques a oddity but ever truly gratifying it. Still, with a expel that includes a superb Belgian comic actor Francois Damiens (Cowboys) in a lead role, and Gallic shaken mutilate Vincent Macaigne (Two Friends) as a male who foils a hero’s disciplined existence, this Berlinale preference might breeze adult anticipating a few takers over a Francophone galaxy.

Damiens plays Philippe Mars, a mild-mannered mechanism programmer about to applaud his 49th birthday. But when his ex-wife (Lea Drucker) heads off to Brussels, saddling him with his quirky 13-year-old son, Gregoire (Tom Rivoire) and uber-studious daughter, Sarah (Jeanne Guittet), things take a spin for a worse when Philippe starts carrying issues with bureau partner Jerome (Vincent Macaigne), a sweat-stained, rarely haphazard nutcase who walks around with a beef hatchet in his knapsack.

How Jerome ever got a pursuit is anyone’s guess, yet he fast loses it when tossing a aforementioned hatchet during his boss, usually to breeze adult rupturing Philippe’s ear transparent in half. Next thing we know, Jerome shows adult during his victim’s doorstep and asks to be put adult for a few nights, so kicking off a sequence of dumb events involving such elements as kidnapped frogs, reincarnated parents, spacewalks, explosives, slaughtered baby chickens and a queasiness Chihuahua.

Moll and unchanging co-writer Gilles Marchand conduct to mix all these mixture with substantial inventiveness via a film’s initial half, progressing a tragic-comic stroke that slides off a rails when a story comes to a conduct in act three. At that point, Philippe’s query to absolved himself of Jerome gets held adult in his enterprise – either unwavering or not – to be a improved dad, and it becomes transparent that all a zaniness is meant to pull him into a deeper romantic tie with his possess kids.

While a intentions are transparent and there are a few noted scenes – including a wisecrack involving a unwashed content summary Philippe intercepts on his son’s phone – Mars still lags in tools and grows uninteresting when Jerome’s antics grow out of whack, generally when he invites a associate mental studious (Veerle Baetens) over for dinner. With so many cuckoos in one nest, not to discuss all a dream sequences and day visions, it’s tough to fasten onto Philippe’s flailing grasp on reality, creation for a film that lacks a wit and tragedy of Harry, even if Moll maintains his pointy eye for detail.

Working with cinematographer Jean-Francois Hensgens (The White Knights), a executive shoots most of a movement as if he were helming a thriller, regulating murky widescreen setups to communicate a vivid clarity of disharmony that takes reason of Philippe as a account unfolds. Intricate prolongation pattern by Emmanuelle Duplay and a jazzy measure by Adrian Johnstone also minister to a film’s gloomy, off-kilter mood, while editor Margot Meynier keeps a gait comparatively well-spoken notwithstanding some snags.

Offering adult a resigned opening that underscores his normalcy compared to those around him, Damiens does a excellent pursuit personification an normal Joe who has to learn a tough approach that life is infrequently about removing your hands unwashed (or your ear cut off), rather than station idly by as it happens. Macaigne – who rose to stardom in a series of French mumblecore-style indies – offers adult his common friendly crook shtick, transforming Jerome into an endearing impression notwithstanding what an irritating man he can be.

Production companies: Diaphana Films, Artemeis Productions, France 3 Cinema
Cast: Francois Damiens, Vincent Macaigne, Veerle Baetens, Jeanne Guittet, Tom Rivoire
Director: Dominik Moll
Screenwriters: Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand
Producer: Michel Saint-Jean
Director of photography: Jean-Francois Hensgens
Production designer: Emmanuelle Duplay
Costume designer: Virginie Montel
Editor: Margot Meynier
Composer: Adrian Johnston
Casting director: Agathe Hassenforder
Venue: Berlin Film Festival (Out of Competition)
Sales agent: Memento Films International

In French
101 minutes

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