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Near Death Experience

Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern
France 2014 / 87’

The author of Atomised has not had an easy life of late. He barely escaped the dimwitted kidnappers described in The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, and he has now been brought to the brink of suicide in Near Death Experience. In a new film directed by the duo of Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine, the French writer has an ironic dialogue with the image of himself created in the media. Instead of posing once again as an intellectual with the manners of a hobo, he plays a painfully ordinary citizen. At a certain moment, Paul, played by Houellebecq, comes to the conclusion, however, that he is completely fed up with his conventional existence. After hugging his wife and kids, he leaves the city with the intention of taking his own life. Like many of the novels by the author of The Map and the Territory, Near Death Experience is a treatise on the moral aspects of suicide, forcing us to consider it as an act of desperation and courage simultaneously. As if this were not enough, Kervern and Delépine's film gives us perhaps our only opportunity to see Houellebecq dressed in cycling gear and dancing to tunes by Black Sabbath.

Piotr Czerkawski

Benoît Delépine

Born in Saint-Quentin in 1958, Benoît Délépine is film director and comedian. He enjoyed his first success as the creator of satirical television programs for Canal+. One of his biggest hits was Les Guignols de l'info, which ran for many years. Since 2004, he has been making feature films together with Gustav Kervern. Representative of their style was their debut film Aaltra, a black comedy about two neighbors who, following a tragic accident, desperately try to get the compensation they are owed.

Selected filmography

2004 Aaltra

2006 Avida

2010 Mammuth

2012 Le grand soir

2014 Na progu śmierci / Near Death Experience

Gustave Kervern

Born in Mauritius in 1962, Gustave Kervern is a director and screenwriter, as well as an occasional actor, teaming up with Catherine Deneuve in the 2014 film In the Courtyard, for example. He is, however, primarily known for his work behind the camera. Kervern spent 15 years as the co-creator of a number of television programs and sketches. While doing so, he had an opportunity to meet Benoît Délépine, four years his senior, with whom he formed an artistic duo. They both began their film careers at the urging of Maurice Pialat. Their greatest success up to this point has been Le grand soir, which won a special jury prize as part of the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Festival.

Selected filmography

2004 Aaltra

2006 Avida

2010 Mammuth

2012 Le grand soir

2014 Near Death Experience

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Official site

Cast & Crew

director Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern
screenplay Gustave Kervern, Benoît Delépine
cinematography Hugues Poulain
editing Stéphane Elmadjian
sound Guillaume Le Bras
cast Michel Houllebecq, Marius Bertram, Manon Chancé
producer Gustave Kervern, Benoît Delépine
production No Money Productions
sales Funny Balloons
language French
colouration colour