Review – POISON FRIENDS (“Les amitiés maléfiques,” Emmanuel Bourdieu, 2006, France)


LES AMITIÉS MALÉFIQUES || 2006, France || Drama || Directed by – Emmanuel Bourdieu / Written by – Emmanuel Bourdieu, Marcia Romano / Produced by – Yorick Le Saux, David Mathieu-Mahias, Mani Mortazavi / Music by – Grégoire Hetzel / Cinematography by – Yorick Le Saux / Editing by – Benoit Quinon / Production design by – Nicolas de Boiscuillé / Starring – Malik Zidi, Thibault Vincon, Alexandre Steiger, Thomas Blanchard, Dominique Blanc, Natacha Régnier, Jacques Bonaffé / Running time: 100 mins.


“Poison Friends (Les amitiés maléfiques)” by Emmanuel Bourdieu (2006, France)

A group of friends are charmed by the self-righteous and eloquently spoken André (Thibault Vincon), a pathological liar who, on the other hand, has no problem manipulating them for his own selfish needs.

Emmanuel Bourdieu’s Poison Friends is not so much exciting in a traditional narrative sense as it is impressive when taken as the unflinching portrayal of a character who cannot seem to be able to “fit in.”

On the other hand, it is also a film chronicling the crisis of a character’s relation with the world; his lies will eventually come back to haunt him. Interestingly, André is also the type of character whom quite possibly the French critics who sustained the politique des auteur theories would have raved about – if it wasn’t for one significant fact; while everyone else around him evolves (i.e. grows up) and time relentlessly goes by, there is little developmet within André, who seems to be unable to snap out of his lying and devious ways and therefore constantly avoids confrontations with his inner self.

This can be seen as a negative lack or a positive lack, but it nevertheless represents the break point for anyone who is unwilling to watch anything that has no true final resolution.

What makes the film so powerful is Vincon’s troubling performance as André. Vincon plays him in a way that is at once charming and at other times totally despicable, but it is also perhaps the inevitability of the outcome that makes it hard to outright hate him, rather than, at most, pity him.

The unflinching nature of the portrayal is equally sustained by the handheld camera movements. – 4/5


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