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Film Criticism by David O'Connell

BUS PALLADIUM @ The French Film Festival

March 10th 2011 04:05

Talk about well-worn cliches: a group of young upstarts, all childhood friends, fancy their chances in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, only for petty jealousies, infighting and fatal attraction to an ambiguous female to jeopardise their entire endeavour. I’d be lying if I said the outcome of Bus Palladium wasn’t as tedious and depressingly familiar as it sounds on paper.

Though 'Lust' is made up of five members, the pair who become the focus of this lifeless drama are hedonistic lead singer Manu (Arthur Dupont) and his best friend Lucas (Marc-Andre Grondin), the sensitive, intelligent one who has just returned from London where he worked as an intern in an architect’s office. Together they set about reconstructing their pre-adolescent fantasies of becoming rock legends and all that it entails.

Then there’s the inevitable female distraction, the talismanic brunette waltzing into the frame. The presence of Laura (Elisa Sednaoui) tips the scale of friendship, disturbing the equilibrium as first Manu and then Lucas falls under her spell. The fact that she’s not particularly attractive has little bearing; the fact that she exhibits the potential to become the first ever groupie with a brain leaves these boys spellbound. Manu in particular develops a self-destructive streak, putting in jeopardy their shot at an album by turning their demo sessions into petty farce.

Everything about writer/director Christopher Thompson‘s Bus Palladium smacks of mediocrity, from the half-hearted attempts to re-create a 70’s vibe with its unruly mops of hair and ever-sprouting facial growths; from the opening sampling of classic Rolling Stones in 'Exile on Main St.' mode - if Scorsese can get away with it, asks Thompson, then why not me? – to the emotional or egotistical outbursts and stagnant, schoolboy mentality that wipes out any shot at Lust's progress.

Dreariest of all is the plethora of scenes in neon-pooled nightclubs or in montage, valiantly trying to frame these young adults as ‘cool’ – all brooding and serious when they’re not flaming out against the self-defeating instincts of their own impetuosity. In the end, the only faint resonation is of a peripheral conclusion positing that fame - to any degree - without corruption is near unthinkable.

This is a bitter disappointment from Thompson who was responsible for the excellent Family Hero (2006) not so long ago. Here he seems devoid of inspiration in attempting to chronicle the stop-start motion of impulsive youths who think they can have their cake and eat it too. This flimsy vehicle may be useful for bringing attention to a group of young French actors who are either upcoming stars or enjoying their lone opportunity to strut their stuff before fading back into oblivion. The jury is out, for frankly, there is very little to enthuse about in Bus Palladium. What was it Neil Young once said? “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. If you're gonna go out, at least go out in style.

The 2011 French Film Festival begins on March 8 and 9 in Sydney and Melbourne respectively before progressing to other states.


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4 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Bryn

March 10th 2011 05:37
Another tick on my festival program gets a question mark, maybe a cross.

Are you seeing The Last Neanderthal, Sphinx, Outside the Law, All That Glitters, or Wolf?

Comment by David O'Connell

March 10th 2011 07:44
Dead boring film mate, nothing to see here.

Sphinx (Cecile DeFrance factor alone is definitely on my radar, as well as Outside the Law. Not sure about the others. Potiche (Ozon factor alone), Of Gods and Men, The Clink of Ice and The Women on the 6th Floor are looking good too.

Comment by Matt Shea

March 11th 2011 01:57
Oh Dave, another turkey. The film gods seem to have forsaken ye. I took a look at getting this but passed in the end. Glad I did.

Comment by David O'Connell

March 11th 2011 03:04
Indeed Matt, this is surely the great turkey of the festival. I despised it actually, not a split second of originality or creative daring.

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