Hot Property: Louise-Michel
By Chris Chang
Hard times continue: Louise (Yolande Moreau) and Michel (Bouli Lanners) are the not-altogether-agreeable-looking duo at the center of Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern’s brazen third feature. They meet randomly in this madcap story—which takes its name from the 19th-century feminist-anarchist Louise Michel—and forge ahead as would-be assassins. Their mission? To track down and kill the factory owner who’s left a disgruntled mob of sweatshop employees high and dry. A decision has been made to pool meager severance packages into a lump sum. The fund is for a hit man—but in classic everything-will-go-wrong fashion, the eponymous pair end up carrying out the plan with their own mildly retarded aplomb.
The characterizations run deep into absurdity: at one point, we learn Louise supplements her diet with pigeons snagged outside her apartment with a rat trap. At another, Michel drags his terminally ill, bedridden sister out of the hospital, and into the narrative fray. He thinks she’ll be the foolproof executioner since she’s going to die anyway. Nice.
Sometimes, when dealt the ugly-reality card, the only recourse is to get ugly. Louise-Michel presents a most entertaining take on the strategy. Who knew empowerment could be so winning and so simultaneously grotesque?
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