Film, Drama

Time Out says

Readers bemused by provocateur novelist Michel Houellebecq’s notorious ‘Les Particules Elémentaires’ – comme moi – may find themselves pleasantly surprised by this handsome, scabrous German adaptation. At its heart lie two excellent performances, by ‘Run Lola Run’s Moritz Bleibtreu as the libidinous Bruno and Christian Ulmen as his shy, intellectual step-brother Michael, both abandoned as children by their hippy-trippy mum to the nurture of their respective grandparents. Bruno, a teacher, is disgraced, and sent to the nuthouse, for pulling out an erect penis for a fancied young student’s inspection; Michael is having an early mid-life crisis, occupied by unfinished business, not least his abandoned thesis on human cloning and his romantic attachment to childhood sweetheart Annabelle (Franka Potente, giving a touching, beautifully modulated performance herself). Talk about mind-body dualism!

Houellebecq’s novel is an exercise in twentieth-century cultural soil rotation, lustily stripping away our modern PC topsoil to expose afresh the more recent geological strata of our irreligious intellectual inheritance, from Freud’s psychoanalysis through Einstein’s relativity to neocapitalism and liberationist sexual politics. The director has grabbed the material with two onanistic fists. When Bruno wanks, Roehler has his cum land – thwack! – on his student’s yearbook photo. Fassbinder would be proud. Like the book, Bruno is dark and funny: it’s some miracle that Bleibtreu has made this misogynist, racist, selfish, self-deluding arsehole quite so sympathetic. Modernity is Bruno’s undoing, even as ‘reactionary’ romanticism is his blonde, blue-eyed bruder’s making. Roehler lays both before us like some Olympian sick joke, encouraging cinematographer Carl-Friedrich Koschnick to provide a backdrop of heightened, saturated, fairy-tale colours. No masterpiece, this, but well worth two hours of any healthy ironist’s time.

By: Wally Hammond



Release details

Release date:
Friday July 14 2006
109 mins

Cast and crew

Oskar Roehler
Oskar Roehler
Moritz Bleibtreu
Christian Ulmen
Martina Gedeck
Franka Potente
Nina Hoss
Uwe Ochsenknecht
Corinna Harfouch
Ulrike Kriener
Jasmin Tabatabai
Michael Gwisdek
Herbert Knaup
Tom Schilling
Nina Kronjäger
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