Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

(click here to see a larger version)

Set in Paris 1912, this is the story of an intrepid young journalist and novelist Adèle Blanc-Sec. We first see her in Egypt trying to find a particular mummy that she needs to find a cure for her sister who's comatose (Agathe was victim of an accident when she was younger). At the same time in a Parisian museum, a Pterodactyl eggs mysteriously hatches and the animal starts attacking people...

Adèle Blanc-Sec by Tardi is one of my favourite comic characters and her adventures are always a pleasure to (re)read. I've been waiting for this movie for several years, but somehow I remained a little bit sceptical when I learned that Luc Besson was directing it.

What didn't work for me? Well, many things actually. Let's start with Adèle. In the comics she is supposed to be an arrogant and politically incorrect young woman with a dry sense of humour who permanently harbors an annoyed look. Louise Bourgoin, despite her best efforts, couldn't bring the real character alive. Her jokes were flat (timing, oh the timing ), her acting seems forced and the way she mechanically delivers her lines is almost tragic... I couldn't see anything of Adèle Blanc-Sec in her and that really spoiled the movie for me. The actress is cute, her costumes lovely but that was it.

I read somewhere that Luc Besson, didn't think that the original Adèle (the arrogant and tough gal) would appeal to the feminine public, so he decided to give the character a more tender and sensitive side. I didn't get this, I really didn't. It seems that strong women continue having trouble finding their place in cinema. Of course you can be sensitive and strong, but it seems you cannot be strong and sensitive (and if you are, it needs to be obvious to everyone around you).

Most of the other secondary characters were boring cliches who didn't hold any appeal, especially when they tried to be comic. There was some bad timing going on there as well ! The only exception was Dieuleveult, the creepy Egyptologist played by Matthieu Almaric, who gives us a great performance. It's unfortunate that his screen time was so short, since he steals every scene he's in and I could feel Almaric was enjoying the role.

The particular dark and mysterious Parisian atmosphere from the books was forgotten, and if there is another important character in this comic series besides Adèle, it's the city of Paris. We still get lovely views here and there, but they didn't make me think about Adèle's Paris.

Many things that I enjoy in the comics were either changed or ignored. I could look pass this if, despite its differences with the original series, the story was strong and captivating or even funny. In the end, it was, at my eyes, a complete failure.
I cannot say that I hated the movie, but it came very close. If you are a Tardi fan, this is not for you. If this is your first Adèle Blanc-Sec experience, it might be a pleasant Saturday evening movie.


  1. I've never heard of this comic, I'm going to have to pick it up.

    Sounds like some serious flaws with the movie though :(

  2. It's so disappointing when the movie based on a book you love stinks. I experienced that with The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Loved the book but hated the movie!

  3. Too bad!! I suppose it's comforting that movie versions of books are always ruined, regardless of language or maker. :/ Such a shame -- the premise totally caught my interest!

  4. Hm. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Luc Besson, but because of the time period I think this is a must-see for me. I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before now!