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Pete Doherty-starring Film Confessions of a Child of the Century Flops at the Cannes Film Festival

Posted on the 22 May 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Pete Doherty plays the lead role in Confessions of a Child of the Century

Pete Doherty. Photo credit: kluens http://flic.kr/p/81K59D

The background

Every summer hundreds of thousands of filmmakers and producers travel to the Cannes International Film Festival hoping to successfully launch their films to the world. The plan is to create lots of buzz on the Croisette and attract the attention of the world’s film press. But for every Cannes hit there are hundreds of films which don’t manage to force their way into the limelight. And then there are the real turkeys, the film’s which get attention simply because they’re widely ridiculed by the critics. This year’s Cannes highest profile flop is Confessions of a Child of the Century.

The film

Sylvie Verheyde’s adaptation of Alfred de Musset’s semi-autobiographical novel is set in 1830’s Paris and follows the fortunes of Octave, who, betrayed by his mistress, sinks into despair and debauchery. His father’s death leads him to the French countryside where he meets Brigitte, a widow who is ten years his elder. Octave is played by British indie rocker Pete Doherty (ex of The Libertines), Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as Birgitte and Lily Cole plays the mistress character.

Boring, dull, insufferable

“Rarely has decadence seemed so dull,” sniped Lee Marshall of Screen International, who slammed the “turgid” adaptation’s “calamitous miscasting” and poor “episodic” script. Pete Doherty’s performance as a philosophising dandy is as catastrophic as the rest of this insufferable film,” sighed Catherine Shoard of The Guardian. Megan Lehmann of The Hollywood Reporter thought the film “intolerably dull” and argued that “the unsteady camerawork is even more irritating than Doherty’s fidgeting.”

“The scenes of so-called depravity are absurdly tame, consisting of men and women lying around on the floor of smoky salons and breaking the occasional glass,” adjudged Megan Lehmann of The Hollywood Reporter

Pete Doherty really can’t act

“The role of a beautiful and damned 19th century libertine sounds like a perfect fit for disheveled English rock poet Pete Doherty, but then there’s the little matter of being able to act,” reminded an unimpressed Megan Lehmann of The Hollywood Reporter. There is a long and noble British tradition of musicians becoming absolutely godawful actors,” noted Catherine Shoard of The Guardian in an one-star review. “Gary Kemp gave it his best shot; Sting outdid himself. Pete Doherty, however, breaks the mold. His performance as a shambling yet sensitive libertine … is catastrophic. Still, that does mean it’s tonally of a piece with the rest of the film.” Shoard slammed Doherty’s “sweaty jittering” and urged him to “stick to the strumming” in future. Lee Marshall of Screen International was similarly unimpressed: “With a more or less permanently bored expression, Doherty looks like he’d rather be somewhere else; he only really comes alive in a few passages of what look like improvised laddish dialog. If the intention was to play on Doherty’s notoriously chaotic lifestyle in casting him as a libertine … the effect is to show him up as a rather timid schoolboy.”

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