Drawing inspiration and its title from an 18th century French anarchist, Louise-Michel (2008) is a black comedy with capitalism in its crosshairs.  While its belated DVD release is set to gain a wider audience due to frustration over the recession, its muddled message shoots wide of the target.

A group of ex-factory workers in Picardie pool their redundancy money to hire an assassin to take revenge on their former boss.  As the only ex-con in the group, Louise uses her underworld contacts to hire a killer and embarks on a bizarre road trip to self-acceptance.

Armchair revolutionaries hoping for another Micmacs (2009) with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s imaginative criticism of the arms industry will be disappointed.  While the films share themes and star Yolande Moreau, Louise-Michel fumbles with a humourless narrative that not even a dash of French charm can save.

Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern’s direction and story sink this film from the start as the senseless violence leaves you stumped.  The piddling plot reads like an excuse for shockingly tasteless scenes such as the coercion of a cancer victim to sacrifice herself in the name of ‘justice’.

With a tagline that should read ‘All Shock No Substance’, Louise-Michel is an enigma that leaves you wondering why it exists at all.  At a time when capitalism is ripe for a kick up the backside, this film can only muster a weak chide.

1/5

2008 FR, 12A, 94mins, French. Out now on DVD.

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