DVD: Confession of a Child of the Century | Film reviews, news & interviews
DVD: Confession of a Child of the Century
Fatuous vehicle for former Libertine Pete Doherty
Not-long into this farrago, Peter – the former Pete - Doherty opines that “nothing is beyond romance, except for the pain that is killing me every day”. Thankfully, the pain here is limited to the close-to two hours that Confession of a Child of the Century takes to trudge towards its conclusion.
That the dialogue is so risibly apt cannot entirely be lain at Doherty's or director Sylvie Verheyde’s door. A faithful adaptation of Alfred de Musset’s dark 19th-century romance Confession d'un enfant du siècle, Confession… employs literal translations from the novel. But with a film this dull, this po-facedly portentous, anything which draws further attention to its shortcomings leaps out like an elephant in the aisle at Marks & Spencer.
Confession of a Child of the Century revolves around Octave (Doherty), a self-obsessed dandy who ditches his girl Elise (Lily Cole). His dad dies and he’s plummeted into a crisis where he questions the meaning of his vacuous life and seeks to mediate his wanton side. Repairing to the country, although seemingly an automaton, he eventually woos Brigitte (Charlotte Gainsbourg). In every scene and on screen virtually the whole time, the blowsy and puffy Doherty dominates the film. Octave’s inner turmoil is telegraphed by constant wandering, roaming, circling of rooms, hair-ruffling and head-lolling. Lines are delivered flat, in exchanges or via the endless and soporific voiceover. Whether Verheyde directed Doherty to be this way by choice or was forced to by his limitations as an actor is potentially an open question. But given his history, the latter is the most likely. God knows what those on set thought when Doherty uttered the line “it was not long before the whole of Paris declared that I was the greatest Libertine”.
It’s impossible not to feel for Gainsbourg. Given the right context, her detached style can affect deeply. But here, she’s cut adrift. Her semi-nude scenes are embarrassing. Doherty is not called on to reveal his bottom.
Verheyde has a history with non-actor musicians – her last two films featured French singer-songwriter Benjamin Biolay – but for this, her first English-language film, she’s gone way beyond the deep end. With nothing to engage, there’s not even much chance this could become a future cult item. Avoid.
Watch the trailer for Confession of a Child of the Century
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