Des Nouvelles de la Planète Mars (News from Planet Mars)
Is there life on Mars? There’s certainly much life in the world of Philippe Mars (François Damiens). He’s trying to do the best he can with his unexciting job, a busy ex-wife with cucumber issues, and two children who seem almost entirely disinterested in him. Philippe’s carefully ordered world disintegrates in this hilarious comedy from director Dominik Moll. Philippe has part of his body inadvertently lopped off by a mentally unwell colleague, while having to deal with his 13-year old son becoming a militant vegetarian and possible sex maniac. Frogs and dogs don’t fare so well either.
The absurdities that arrive to complicate Philippe’s life are added in layers. By the end it’s so unapologetically ridiculous that the viewer has to admire Moll’s restraint for not allowing the whole affair to turn into an unmitigated farce earlier on. Damiens plays Philippe with a slightly baffled air, although his willingness to put up with all the chaos that is laid at his feet seems to be to the benefit of the story. This minor inconvenience is quickly and satisfactorily explained away by his dead parents, who appear to him as sweetly jovial ghosts (naturally).
Des Nouvelles de la Planète Mars (News from Planet Mars) seems to take place in Paris, although references to and views of the city are non-existent – a nice rarity in French cinema. Philippe’s life is limited to his sterile office and his increasingly dysfunctional home, with occasional strolls around the darkened nearby streets. There is an exciting darkness to the humour, and this is something that has come to be expected from Moll. The press screening at the 66th Berlin Film Festival had cynical journalists giggling helplessly into their notebooks.
This is perhaps the most commercial film from Dominik Moll, and could easily become one of those French films that goes on to great financial success. Des Nouvelles de la Planète Mars does not overtly pose any grandiose questions or attempt to solve the complexities of modern life. But it provides a great deal of laughs with its intelligently laid-out nonsense.
Des Nouvelles de la Planète Mars (News from Planet Mars) does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Des Nouvelles de la Planète Mars here: