There’s always one college student who courts teacher’s-pet status, and at an unnamed French university, the top contender for most favored pupil is Andr (Vinon). From being the first to volunteer for class presentations to complimenting his lit professor at every opportunity, this bright young thing is destined to flatter his way into a cushy postgrad gig. He’s also attracted a coterie of followers among his fellow students, each of whom goes out of his way to avoid Andr’s withering, ruthless put-downs. So what if he steals the potential girlfriend (Criminal Lovers’ Rgnier) of his insecure pal (Zidi) and erases computer files of others’ short stories that he feels are “unworthy”? Then the golden boy’s plans get derailed, and out comes an ever-expanding web of pathological lies.
As played by Thibault Vinon, this borderline sociopath makes for an obvious BMOC; the actor turns the academic hotshot into a lethal combination of intellect, arrogance and charm. Unfortunately, he’s the only reason to suffer through this turgid ivory-tower drama, since director Emmanuel Bourdieu lets both premise and pacing fizzle to a standstill. This serpent has a smile and sharp fangs, but not even a virulently venomous version of Mike Albo’s The Underminer can shoulder an entire narrative. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.) — David Fear