Les Particules – Fantasia 2019 Review

The feeling of going to a film festival, eagerly anticipating a film which you’ve been hyping up for the last few weeks, that ends up becoming a tonal disaster, is a feeling like no other. On the same bar as parental disappointment, nothing feels more shitty than watching a film which you’ve been excited to watch and discuss about, to become a product so mediocre, so tasteless and purposeless, to the point where you need to question your own sanity. Frankly, this doesn’t happen much; and I’m eternally grateful to whoever is looking from above to prevent any situation like this from ever regularly happening. However, with the case of Les Particules, a french supernatural thriller about teens and the Geneva Hadron Collider, the end result is one of questionable funding decisions, and a concrete example of a giant waste of time.

Coming fresh out of Cannes discourse, the premise of Les Particules sounded cool enough to satisfy any fan of international, sci-fi related cinema. Using a commonly conversed subject such as the Hadron Collider, as means to be used as an important metaphysical framing device, is a direction that I honestly think is fresh and unique, that can be used the film’s ultimate advantage. Fortunately, Les Particules had some elements regarding coming of age, disappearances, social status, and friendships. The bad news is that the film barely used any of these themes and motifs, and practically separates them from ever coming together. What’s the point of introducing unique concepts, if your never going to benefit from these ideas in the long run? 

Even more shockingly, Blaise Harrison doesn’t do anything with the lead protagonist. He’s essentially an emotionless wet noodle without any personality whatsoever. He’s constantly surrounded by scenarios that feel purposeless, that feel like endless filler, contained with elongated scenes of party-life, and drug-fueled exposition. Outside of the film’s ridiculous narrative and general story direction, the only real pro to Les Particules is it’s occasionally impressive cinematography and visual effects, which feel atmospheric and filled with life; which ironically is the complete opposite of what this film ended up becoming. 

Here’s a note to all up and coming directors. Don’t make a film, if you don’t know what your doing. Les Particules is a perfect example of what you shouldn’t do with a film’s overarching narrative and character beats. Nothing feels connected here. From the pretentious dialogue, to the romantic insinuations that are artificially tacked on, you’ll feel emotionally drained by the end of this meandering slog. Maybe I should have listened to the warning signs before hand; regarding the mixed critiques from the Director’s Fortnight. Alas, nothing can be reversed now. What’s done is done!

Les Particules screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. The film is currently seeking international distribution

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