" The only good bug is a dead bug "
Starship Troopers

MRQE Top Critic

Les Choristes

The French confection Les Choristes is now available on a skimpy, movie-only DVD —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

Sponsored links

When a movie this miserable comes out, it’s easy to write it off as being unwatchable, but then again, not all films are supposed to be a pretty walk in the park. As entertainment, this movie would be on the lowest level of the totem pole. As art, I don’t even think it ranks. But regardless, I have a feeling I’m going to be in the minority of critics, who will likely praise this grim tale by novelist Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), as being “powerful” and “relevant”. Yes, I was moved by disgust, but the feeling of Oh my god, I have to take a shower after a film really isn’t that great.

The protagonists get involved with the police and really start to screw up the investigation
The protagonists get involved with the police and really start to screw up the investigation

On mute, this is a film about scowling. If you have to turn up the volume, and I strongly suggest you don’t, the outline reveals itself immediately from a dreary monologue by Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck, Gerry), a private investigator in downtown Boston. Although he looks like he is 12, this guy is supposedly one tough cookie, and with his co-worker/girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan), take up a missing persons case of a local 4-year-old girl.

Apparently, the two are hired because of their expertise and capability to reach into the underground of the city, but as each character asks them, ‘what the hell are you two doing here?’ we’re posing the same question. There seems to be no knowledge that these characters have that would qualify them to be professionals. When it becomes apparent that this is a kidnapping case, they get involved with the police and really start to screw up the investigation. The gruesomeness unfolds as each person in the film gets dirtier and more unpleasant, so by the time we’re set up for some twists, I couldn’t care less what happens.

Ben Affleck — in his directorial debut — brings absolutely nothing more than characters in center frame and endless skyline shots. There’s something more to good filmmaking than casting your baby brother as the lead; especially when his prepubescent voice and baby-faced presence can’t hold a candle to the written character. I have no personal grudge against either of the Affleck bros, but hopefully after this disaster, their collaborating days will be gone, baby, gone.