Archive of films Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq / L' enlèvement de Michel Houellebecq

2014, 93 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2014

Three years ago, word spread that well-known, controversial French author Michel Houellebecq had been kidnapped. His fellow countryman and friend Guillaume Nicloux decided to shoot a film about how it really went down, and he succeeded in convincing Houellebecq to appear as himself. Despite not contributing to this writer-director film, the beloved and even execrated artist marked it with his inconsistent personality.


In September 2011 controversial French author Michel Houellebecq disappeared, and the news spread that he’d been kidnapped. Director Guillaume Nicloux decided to shoot a film about the alleged kidnapping, and he succeeded in getting Houellebecq to appear as himself. Although the renowned, beloved, and even accursed artist didn’t contribute to the script, the depiction of the kidnapping carries clear traces of his persona. The filmmaker describes the picture as a mix of "truth, lies, and conjecture” – although shot by and large with a handheld camera, with editing adapted toward creating a certain perception of the documentary, the audience soon suspects that what’s appearing onscreen may be fiction. The writer-director, however, allowed both Houellebecq and his "kidnappers” enough room to improvise, which gives the characters’ words and behavior a veracity bordering on naturalism. The protagonist doesn’t hide his own sense of humor nor his markedly controversial worldview; moreover, the choice of representatives of the underworld, who came up with the idea of cashing in on a celebrity kidnapping, came off excellently.

About the director

Guillaume Nicloux

Guillaume Nicloux (b. 1966, Melun, France) began his artistic career as a director and actor on the Paris theater scene. In 1987 he shot the short L’orage and a year later his first feature La piste aux étoiles. Other films include The Flying Children (Les enfants volants, 1990), Happiness Is No Joke (Faut pas rire du bonheur, 1994), The Octopus (La poulpe, 1998), A Private Affair (Une affaire privée, 2001), That Woman (Cette femme-là, 2003), The Stone Council (Le concil de pierre, 2005), and The Key (La clef, 2007). Considering his work to date, he took a generic detour with a Diderot novel adaptation, The Nun (La religieuse, 2013), which was invited to compete at the Berlinale. At the 2014 Berlin IFF, the Forum section presented The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq. Nicloux has taught at Paris’s La fémis film school for the past ten years, and he is also active in literature.


Le Pacte
5, rue Darcet, 750 17, Paris
Tel: +33 144 695 959
Fax: +33 144 695 942
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Another View
Director: Guillaume Nicloux
Screenplay: Guillaume Nicloux
Dir. of Photography: Christophe Offenstein
Editor: Guy Lecorne
Producer: Sylvie Pialat
Production: Les Films du Worso
Coproduction: Chic Films, Arte France
Cast: Michel Houellebecq, Maria Bourjala, Luc Schwarz, Mathieu Nicourt, Maxime Lefrançois
Contact: Le Pacte

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