A disproportionate cinema gesture, Valérian struggles to go the distance but is crammed with visions of pure SF.
Released in the summer of 2017 at the cinema, the most expensive film in the history of French cinema arrives this Sunday on TF1. Is Valerian worth a look? For Première , absolutely, even if we recognize in our review that it is far from perfect. Above all, don’t miss the start!
VALÉRIAN: LUC BESSON LOOKS BACK ON THE MAKING OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE FRENCH FILM OF ALL TIME
A prologue in the form of a montage sequence which tells the story of the conquest of space since 1975, the encounter with alien races and the construction of Alpha, a neutral galactic city (from the International Space Station) to the sound of “Space Oddity “from Bowie. Then a wordless account of the destruction of aliens on a paradisiacal planet, finally a bizarre mission of two “space-time” agents in a large souk existing on two levels of reality … The first hour of Valérian and the City of a thousand planets could well remain in the annals, by brilliantly associating the two great trends of science fiction: prospecting (what will happen in the future?), and the imagination to the point of delirium (creatures , decorations, objects).picks with joy in the bestiary space opera of Christin / Mézières and tells nothing or not much (the mission of Valérian and Laureline is a pure gimmick to cross the semi-virtual “Big Market”), he lets himself go to the poetry, he follows his rhythm as a fan of pure SF, of a work-universe where every corner of the image is teeming with detail and humor; somewhere between Jack Vance for the phrasing (poetic, Rimbaldien) and Iain M. Banks (for the nicely anar cosmic talk).
VALÉRIAN / THE FIFTH ELEMENT: LAURELINE IN THE SHADOW OF LEELOO
But in Besson’s space oddity , the stars are ultimately too familiar. When the straitjacket of the scenario – already seen and predictable – closes on Valérian , the film seems to run on reserves, quickly run out of energy. The film, too long (nearly 2h20), does not have the lean lightness of the Fifth Element which sought pure speed, and is exhausted towards a too long, too classic conclusion, far from the delirium in freedom of its first part. It is also perhaps due to an imbalance of the script (clearly, it is Laureline the heroine, while the film keeps coming back to Valérian) to the finally wobbly construction. When Valérianhovers and makes riffs, we follow him in his “disorder of all the senses”, but when he plays Die Hard in space, it also falls back dry. However, there remains the gesture of cinema, unprecedented in the history of French cinema: a gesture of disproportionate, megalomaniac, sincere and unique, which bears the mark of its author at each shot, for better or for worse.