When the "bad boy of French literature" made a movie of his ground-breaking novel about cloning, cults and the end of the world, he probably wasn't hoping for comparisons to Benny Hill or critics bursting out laughing during his first showing. Novelist and H.P. Lovecraft critic Michel Houellebecq was so offended by the critics' laughter, he canceled a press conference on his movie Possibility Of An Island. But what was so bad about Possibility anyway? Here's the plot synopsis of Possibility, according to distributor Celluloid Dreams:
Years after separating from his father's sect, Daniel decides to return to the commune where he grew up. Daniel realises that the promise of immortality made to the sect's followers, has in fact, become a reality through modern cloning techniques. His father volunteers to be the first clone and Daniel replaces him. 25 generations later, Daniel25 has survived the cataclysms that have devastated the human race. He lives like a hermit in a high-tech, subterranean bunker protected from contamination. His sole companion is a dog. The satellite images he sees on his screens reveals the presence of a beautiful woman. Daniel25 can't resist the impulse to follow her…
On the face of it, this movie has got everything. Cults, communes, cloning, immortality, daddy issues, post-apocalyptic wastelands and sex. So what happened? The Guardian explains:
It is fair to say that The Possibility of an Island is a curious film - a sci-fi movie about cloning, weird religious sects and human life after the apocalypse. There is an unevenness of tone: certain sequences, such as a bikini contest set in a Lanzarote beach resort, wouldn't look out of place on The Benny Hill Show. Elsewhere, the film is more in the spirit of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, notably the shots of Benoît Magimel (as a character called Daniel25, the last man alive), roaming through a barren landscape with his dog in tow. The soundtrack features Mozart and Beethoven, and at times the film has an austere beauty; at others, it is reminiscent of an old episode of Star Trek. The critics were not kind. This week Le Figaro's Brigitte Baudin described The Possibility of an Island as "ridiculous" and "catastrophic", while Corriere della Serra's Maurizio Pollo wrote that it was "of a quite exemplary tedium". Others were less damning: the critic at El País reported that Houellebecq had directed his first film "with more enthusiasm than results".
So what I mostly learned from the above paragraph is that in addition to featuring cloning, cults and daddy issues, it also has a slapstick bikini contest. And that the low-budget film resembles an episode of original Star Trek at times. Still not seeing why this film is not destined for greatness. Oh, and here's an interview with the man himself about his novel: