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ATOMISED

Director: OSKAR ROEHLER

GERMANY • 2006 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 113 MIN


DIRECTOR OSKAR ROEHLER ASSEMBLES THE CREAM OF GERMANY’S ACTING TALENT TO REALISE HIS DREAM OF FILMING
ATOMISED, FRENCH WRITER MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ’S CONTROVERSIAL NOVEL ABOUT TWO BROTHERS, GENETICS AND CONTEMPORARY SEXUAL MORES.
Atomised is a novel of big ideas, with the author exploring philosophical and scientific theories about the very nature of humanity and its possible evolution. Roehler crams in as much of the theorising as possible, and thankfully retains large chunks of Houellebecq’s scabrous observations on the human condition as experienced by the two central protagonists. Michael (Christian Ulmen) is a brilliant molecular biologist who cuts himself off emotionally from people. As the film begins, he’s quitting a good job to return to his beloved research into asexual reproduction, but fate brings him back into contact with childhood friend Annabelle (Franka Potente of Run Lola Run). His half brother Bruno (Moritz Bleibtreu, also of Lola fame) is a literature teacher who is unhappily married and whose sexual obsessions lead to a mental breakdown. The cause of the brothers’ problems is their troubled childhood. As revealed in a series of vivid flashbacks, the boys’ selfish mother abandoned them to different grandparents whilst she pursued a hedonistic life in hippie communes. Even more than Houellebecq, Roehler sees the pursuit of alternative lifestyles as the source of all contemporary ills. The film’s most outrageously funny episode sees a desperate Bruno trying and failing to pick up women at an awful New Age group gathering. There’s more misfortune to come, but Roehler can’t resist adding an ambiguous happy ending to this otherwise compelling adaptation.—Pete Walsh.

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