The Extraordinary Adentures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
(Luc Besson 2010, USA)
Maintaining his customary visual flair and cinematic mastery, Luc Besson returns once again with his latest auteurist vision, possibly his most audacious and visually commanding film since 1997’s imaginative The Fifth Element.
Utilising the talents of cinematographer Thierry Arbogast (the two worked together on The Fifth Element), Besson presents an impressively shot, ambitious tale packed with supernatural escapades and humorously memorable characters, coupled with all the best elements of the fantasy-adventure genre. With a playful tone and a plot scaling back to pre-war, 1912 Paris, this is an endlessly original film blending a weird and wonderful quest with bumbling policemen, reawakened mummies and a ravenous pterodactyl. Hollywood, take note.
Filling the title role is Louise Bourgoin, a stimulating screen presence who lends a watchable capability to her humorously sharp character; a debonair explorer who fuses snappy one-liners with a sentimental hidden agenda. Blanc-Sec is feisty, gorgeous and intelligent with a confident talent for tomb raiding and an impressive speciality for disguise. Think Lara Croft but without the pistols, British austerity and exaggerated bosoms. She is also a refreshing addition to Besson’s attention to strong female protagonists, previously seen with Nikita and Leon’s pre-pubescent character Matilda.
Although dragged down by an occasionally juvenile demeanour and clichéd characterisation, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is nevertheless visually rich, narratively exciting and fully deserving of its place amongst Besson’s impressive oeuvre. It’s no classic, but it is a stirring film worthy of a wider audience than it will probably receive.
- The Extroardinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, 2010. [Film] Directed by Luc Besson, France: Europa Corp.
- The Fifth Element, 1997. [Film] Directed by Luc Besson, France: Gaumont.
- Léon, 1994. [Film] Directed by Luc Besson, France: Gaumont.
- Nikita, [Film] Directed by Luc Besson, France: Gaumont.