Dir: Bruno Merle. Fr. 2007. 116mins.
Imagine a raving lunatic screaming at you virtually non-stop for two hours, six inches from your face, and you will begin to get an idea of what it is like to watch Heroes.

For its basic premise - berserk fan kidnaps star and harangues him brutally for days on end - Bruno Merle's debut film borrows liberally from Scorsese's King Of Comedy but never comes close to the social critique of the earlier film, nor anything else in that underrated classic.

For its visual and aural technique, Merle throws in everything but the kitchen sink - wait, no, that's in there too - though his principal influence here seems to be the cinematic hijinx of Guy Ritchie in a film like Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels.

All this is to say that this offensive and unoriginal film that tries way too hard will have trouble finding an audience after it played in Critics' Week at Cannes. TV may prove a long shot, given the rawness of the film's language and visual imagery.

For both better and worse, the center of all the forced intensity is Pierre Foret (Youn), a failed comic whose job is to warm up television audiences before taping begins.

Frustrated by his unfulfilled life, one day he kidnaps Clovis Costa (Chesnais), an aging rock star who may remind some viewers of a certain age of Johnny Halliday. From that moment on, it's basically a two-hander, with Pierre unleashing a torrent of abuse, alternating with expressions of admiration, on his idol Costa.

Oh yes, and there's the corpse of his father that Pierre sleeps beside at night. None of this makes for a pretty sight (or sound).

Merle undoubtedly sees himself as breaking new ground here - for example, the occasional Brechtian asides to the unseen director, a la Godard ca 1968 (even self-conscious references to Scorsese are daringly made), the split screen, the bizarre camera angles, the speeded-up action sequences, and above all, the constantly pounding drums - but the relentless focus on a constantly over-the-top, hyper-caffeinated Pierre, who simply will not shut up, will wear out most audiences long before the end is in sight.

A half-hearted attempt to send up the media also falls flat. The question that remains is whether the fault lies with an otherwise apparently very talented actor who wants so badly for us to love him that he has been unwisely allowed to go crazy for 114 minutes, or whether it lies in the in-your-face script itself.

The last third of the film does get a bit quieter, for a while at least, while the scripts probes the childhood causes for Pierre's 'hilarious' insanity. By that time, however, the audience has become so alienated that no one will care in the slightest.

Production company/backers
Les Films du Requin
Arte France Cinema
Artistic Images

International sales
Coach 14

Cyril Auriac
Valentine Beraud
Jean des Forets

Bruno Merle
Emmanuelle Destremau

Georges Diane

Elise Fievet

Clement Terry

Main cast
Michael Youn
Patrick Chesnais
Elodie Bouchez