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Lemming
UKScreen Rating:

Lemming – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

No wonder Alain (Lucas) has become flavour-of-the-month at the Pollock electronics firm: he’s worked out how to strap a set of remote-controlled mini helicopter blades to the top of a webcam.
The owner of the firm, Richard (Dussollier), is so taken with his new engineer, that he’s invited himself and his wife Alice (Rampling) round for dinner at Alain’s.
Alain’s perfect young wife Bénédicte (Gainsbourg) has been slaving over the food, so she’s a bit put out when their guests turn up so late that even the salad’s past its best.
The hosts put on a polite front as their guests arrive, stoney faced. The bourgeois scene is shattered when Alice blurts out the fact that her husband is a philanderer.
Within days, Alice has tried to seduce Alain, before paying an unexpected visit to Bénédicte, with tragic consequences.
The perfect young couple have their perfect young lives thrown into turmoil – by everything from mysterious rodents, malfunctioning electronics and peculiarly illogical behaviour.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

On the surface, this is a taught thriller – chiller, even. But it’s certainly not a straightforward one. It’ll almost certainly leave you with a lot a questions, but not necessarily in a good way.
The performances from all the four leads are impeccable: Rampling’s pallid desperation, Dussollier’s polite superciliousness, Gainsbourg’s oddly split personality and Lucas’s growing confusion.
It’s hard to work out where this film is going from the moment it starts to lose connection with normality – your understanding and enjoyment of the film will depend on whether you put that break from normality down to the paranormal or a descent into insanity.
I’m pretty sure I know which it is – but if I tell you what I think is going on, it’ll affect your perception of the film. In a sense, it would be like me telling you the twist to Sixth Sense before you’ve seen it, although in this case, it’s not a twist, just my understanding of an unexplained denouement.
If my understanding is correct, it’s a very clever and unusual take on a subject we’ve seen many times before on screen, but whereas most film-makers would milk it for shocks and psychological analysis, Moll grounds it in reality, without any of the characters realising what’s going on themselves.
Moll’s attempts to draw literal and metaphorical interpretations from every nuance go a bit too far –moments after a lemming is found in a U-bend, we see one of the main characters acting exactly how we’re told lemming’s act – but it’s a red herring. He tries to be too clever. At times, it’s like he’s setting up a good joke with a bad punchline or worse, telling you a joke when he doesn’t even know the punchline.
Like another recent release, Hidden, it’s the kind of arthouse fare that wants to break into the mainstream, but isn’t quite as clever or deserving as it thinks it is, yet still, somehow, manages to lap up high praise at festivals such as Cannes.
It’s an interesting and thought provoking film, which I believe tackles a familiar theme in an unusually grown-up way, but for all that, it’s nothing like as satisfying as it should be.

Opens nationwide 28th April 2006

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