Les Voisins [The Neighbours] (1987)

(On DVD, January 2008) Some TV specials should never escape the vaults, and this eighties TV-movie is a fine example of why some archives are better off mouldering in silence. The DVD’s promotional material will try to sell you the film as a satire about the emptiness of suburban lives, but it fails to add that the film itself becomes the equivalent of nails scratching a blackboard. The dialog, the acting, the cinematography: everything is so grossly amateurish that it’s hard not to suspect a practical joke or a modern art project. But the effect is indistinguishable from a truly awful film: I contemplated life, obsessions and my DVD remote throughout most of the film, wondering if I absolutely had to go through it. The shifting levels of dialog alone (sometimes formal, sometimes slangy, always stilted) are enough to drive anyone crazy. The worst thing about Les Voisins, though, is that it’s crammed with half a dozen competent and funny actors who would go one to much better things: it’s disheartening to see people such as Louise Richer stuck with a z-grade script and even worse direction. Avoid, just avoid.

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