1991-2000DramaFrancePhilippe Harel

Philippe Harel – Extension du domaine de la lutte AKA Whatever (1999)

Based on the fantastic book by Michel Houellebecq :

OUR hero in this gloriously dark piece is a depressed, cynical, sexually obsessed systems engineer moping through life perked up only by the fun he has putting others into a similarly suicidal state. When he is sent on a work trip to train up clients to use his company’s software he is forced to travel with the slimy Raphael, an unreconstruted male bursting with such sheer desperation that he is destined never to have success with the women he chases…

On the trip the pair begin to bond in a very loose fashion since our hero openly hates Raphael and Raphael tolerates our hero because he has to in order to feel he has a real friend. The pure bitterness of Philippe Harel, who adapted and directed the film as well as starring as the lead, is fantastically bleak and raw. He never relents in his mission to proove that life is futile and wonderful incidents like his stress over trying to buy a bed illustrate this perfectly. This man lives to make himself and others unhappy.

Raphael, played with admirable sympathy by Jose Garcia tranforms from the ultimate creep to a tragic figure as we learn more and more about him. Raphael still posesses huge hope for the future despite the indications that nothing is ever going to go right for him, which is only reinforced by his travelling companion who he idealises as a sage on the subject of love and romance on the basis that he has actually managed a relationship in the past…

The whole film has a blackly glossy look with grotty flats and gloomy weather setting the mood. That such a miserable film should be so watchable and at times very funny is something of a surprise. That Raphael also prooves eventually to be suc a moving figure is totally unexpected. Both Harel’s acting and direction are excellent and his choice of source material seems to suit his eclectic tastes perfectly. This is a very french, very disposessed look at life for a single man in the modern world. Don’t be disheartened by the high depression content though since here the unhappiness of the characters give you a feeling of compensatory healthiness and lightness.

1.37GB | 1h 55m | 624×336 | avi


Subtitles:English (srt), English (sub/idx)

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