Adele Blanc-Sec Review

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Paris, 1911: When a pterodactyl hatches in a museum and begins terrorising the town, clueless detective Caponi (Lellouche) seeks the connection between the prehistoric menace, a mad old professor (Nercessian) conducting resurrection experiments and intrep


**Amélie meets Indiana Jones in a charming, funny and exciting escapade. The French love their comic books, and it’s great to see Luc Besson sufficiently enamoured of Jacques Tardi’s sexy Adèle Blanc-Sec serials to set aside his producing activities long enough to direct one with his habitual lashings of personal style and a still-youthful energy. Adapted by Besson from two of Tardi’s ‘albums’ (Adèle Et La Bête and Momies En Folie, comics connoisseurs), it’s an offbeat ripping yarn, with a plucky, resourceful, unflappable heroine (Louise Bourgoin) who romps from Egyptian tomb to tennis court in picturesque big hats and pre-First World War skirts but a thoroughly modern spirit.

Besson and his regular director of photography since La Femme Nikita, Thierry Arbogast, and Joan Of Arc production designer Hugues Tissandier have created a wonderful, visually rich early 20th century Paris in which boulevardiers, can-can dancers, politicians, le bon ton, scholars and a Scottish terrier mingle fantastically with re-animated prehistorical and mummified beings. Adèle also journeys to Egypt — references to her previous adventures make clear her renown for globe-trotting exploits in search of myth and mystery — where a treasure hunt gets tricky and dangerously confrontational with the entrance of sinister tomb raider/rival Dieuleveult (an alarmingly prostheticised Mathieu Amalric). Meanwhile shy scientist Zborowski (Nicolas Giraud) is nurturing an unrequited love for Mlle. Adèle, Adèle’s twin sister lies in near-death catatonia after a spectacularly freaky accident, and the French government has set a mighty big-game hunter (Jean-Paul Rouve as Saint-Hubert) on the trail of the pesky pterodactyl with whom we have every sympathy. Relative newcomers Bourgoin and Giraud are attractively engaging, Bourgoin’s beauteous but no-nonsense Adèle winning over the living, the dead and the indeterminate with her catchphrase/signature move: “Into my arms!”

The actors play it droll but fairly straight through a playful series of set-pieces, like a montage of Adèle’s numerous attempts, in a string of disguises, to break Jacky Nercessian’s decrepit eccentric, Professor Esperandieu (a dead ringer for Ralph Fiennes as the burned English Patient), out of prison, and a close shave with the guillotine that makes breathing difficult from screaming and laughing at the same time.

A romp magnifique, with enough thrills, giggles and pretty pictures to reward adventure-lovers who wouldn’t normally entertain the idea of taking in a treat with subtitles. Don’t miss the mid-credits postscript.