A Rezo Films release (in France) of a Rezo Films/Le Studio Canal Plus/M6 Films/Contre Prod. production, in association with Eskwad, with participation of Canal Plus, M6, Studio Images 4, Sofinergie 4 and CNC. (International sales: UGC Intl., Paris.) Produced by Jean-Michel Rey, Philippe Liegeois.
Directed, written by Albert Dupontel. Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Claude Thibault; editor, Scott Stevenson; music, Jean-Philippe Goude, Alain Ranval; art director, Denis Renault; costume designer, Carine Sarfati; sound (Dolby), Francois Groult; special effects, Philippe Hubin, Thierry Garcia, Patrice Fauquemberg; assistant director, James Canal; casting, Antoinette Boulat. Reviewed at Max Linder Panorama, Paris, April 15,1999. Running time: 91 MIN.
Darius Albert Dupontel Chloe Duval Claude Perron Victor Philippe Uchan Simon Michel Vuillermoz Pierre Nicolas Marie God Terry Jones Jesus Dominique Bettenfeld
An extreme tale of writer's block told with bravado and visual flair, "The Creator" is delectably dark in its sardonic portrayal of what it takes to give birth to an artistic endeavor. Although pic combines plot elements as disparate as a cat's p.o.v., a head-butting session with Jesus Christ and former Python Terry Jones in a cameo as God, scripter-helmer-lead Albert Dupontel keeps his over-the-top universe remarkably cogent and true to itself -- until petering out in a flurry of pyrotechnics. Less histrionic and ornery than helmer's 1996 debut, "Bernie," pic has the sort of trendy veneer and advance support that could spell a local hit. Fests will find this a lively item.
A one-man band himself, Dupontel sends up the myth of the author as deity in his portrayal of Darius, a bespectacled playwright with a permanently cowed expression and a serious drinking problem. After a long sojourn drying out, following the success of his legit debut, Darius returns to Paris to see posters announcing his forthcoming opus. The play has a producer, a leading lady, a theater and an opening date. There's only one problem: Darius has completely forgotten to write so much as a line of the darn thing.
Using exaggerated framing, unusual focal lengths and odd camera angles, pic details Darius' chronic social discomfort and torturous struggle to meet a looming deadline in the absence of any artistic inspiration. When he accidentally kills his neighbor's cat, he conks out on sedatives and awakens to find his previously blank computer screen holding the beginning of a play. Convinced that only murder can lend him the inspiration he requires, Darius heads down a chilling path, dispatching various living creatures for the sake of his art.
Helmer's nasty humor targets societal norms vs. personal limitations -- the fear of being found out, of not fitting in. Memorable set pieces include Darius' improvised, utterly nebulous account of his nonexistent play in front of fawning key personnel who claim to grasp what he's babbling about, and plowing his car straight through the door of his apartment building when he forgets his entrance code.
Dupontel, present in nearly every frame, convincingly projects the burden of self-doubt in the face of mammoth expectations. Supporting cast, particularly Claude Perron as a mercenary actress, Philippe Uchan as an ultra-solicitous neighbor and rubber-faced Michel Vuillermoz as an irritable stage manager, are tops.
The movie's dense, borderline-lugubrious look, with heavy contrast, is a theatrical cousin to the Caro & Jeunet style. Aura of menace is reinforced by a score flamboyantly stocked with classical and opera standards, including Grieg, Mozart, Borodin, Puccini and Mussorgsky.3