Long after it’s forgotten as a festival favorite, Poison Friends may be remembered for André Morney (Vinçon), who is, quite simply, one of the most repugnant social climbers ever unleashed onscreen. Looking like Dirty Harry’s Scorpio, he’s the kind of man who insults someone’s shoes for no reason whatsoever. Over the course of the film, André befriends, then systematically berates, the other students in a college literature class, encouraging them not to publish their stories and novels because—as a way of disguising his own incompetence—he argues that true intellectuals don’t write. And for some reason, they believe him, even when he pushes one of them (Steiger) to lie on a résumé. Simply by reiterating his antiwriting credo, André persuades his “friend” Eloi (Zidi) to burn the love letter he writes to Marguerite (Régnier). Later, André plagiarizes his thesis and has the temerity to slap his professor (Bonnaffé) when it’s rejected. Yet the prof still gives André a diploma. Poison Friends subscribes to the not-entirely-bogus notion that confidence trumps all. Even so, outside of movieland, any sentient being would immediately recognize André as a shit. As his schemes develop, the film falls into a predictable pattern of chortles (at his behavior) and forehead slaps (at others’ reactions). It’s an agreeably nasty drama that, by virtue of the high pitch of its absurdity, nearly morphs into an agreeably dark comedy.
Cast and crew