The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
Last week while I was still recovering from the WHC (and struggling to get back into my work routine) I went to see Luc Besson’s latest film The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. It’s the first live-action film he’s directed in five years and is based on a Franco-Belgian comic by renowned French comics artist Jacques Tardi. Besson’s Leon was one of my favourite films and I’ve enjoyed his other work, so after seeing the trailer to this, I was suitably excited to see what his return to the director’s chair would bring.
Adèle Blanc-Sec is a curious film (imagine a female Indiana Jones with a sprinkling of Amélie) with a plot revolving around the titular character’s quest to save her sister who was left comatose after a freak tennis accident; on the way she encounters a pterodactyl, a scientist who can revive the dead and Egyptian mummies. If that all sounds a bit bonkers…well it is. The plot doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense, nor am I convinced that it’s meant to; rather it serves as a device on which to hang various peculiar characters, comedic situations and action sequences to provide an entertaining ride. And it is entertaining, even if it’s charm, humour and cast of quirky characters doesn’t always work quite as well as you feel it ought to and the pacing of the film is a little too pedestrian. Rather than a rip-roaring adventure, it felt at times more akin to a gentle stroll in the countryside that lets you admire the wonderful views in the presence of some pleasant company. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in an age of headache-inducing frenetic, fast-paced, choppy editing seen in many Hollywood action films – I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me what Transformers 2 was all about (actually they’d better first explain to me why I bothered to watch it in the first place).
Many of Besson’s films feature strong female protagonists, from Leon‘s Matilda to The Fifth Element‘s Leeloo. This film is no different with the central role of Adèle, played by Louise Bourgoin, who is perfectly cast as the ever resourceful and resolute heroine, oozing intelligence, wit and sexiness in equal measures. She gives an excellent performance and it’s her character that holds the film together, maintaining your attention throughout.
So all in all I enjoyed Adèle Blanc-Sec. Even though it didn’t always quite live up to the high expectations I had for it, it was perfect viewing for a lazy afternoon. Ultimately though, I was left wondering what this material would have been like in the hands of Besson’s fellow French director, and personal favourite of mine, Jean-Pierre Jeunet.