Despite some arresting images, Pola X is the first Carax movie I've seen that felt like homework, intermittently piquing my interest but, more often than not, causing me to peek at the time counter on the front of my player, wonder when I would hit the "Fin." Even when the prerequisite New French Extreme scene came about two-thirds of the way in, I was left soft. Hardcore interlude between possible brother and sister? OK. But the whole thing still feels like soap opera.
Guillaume Depardieu is no substitute for Denis Lavant. I have a little respect for the deceased, so I won't belabor the point of his dreariness as a leading man. The problem for me wasn't the acting (or even the staid directing) so much as the story. A mystery woman turns up and claims to be your long-lost sister, maybe you do a little background check, right? Especially if you're a writer. A very wealthy writer with means. Sure, it's the late '90s, but how about two minutes on Alta Vista, at least?
Coming off of the brilliant Lovers on the Bridge, I have to wonder what was up with Carax in the intervening eight years between that film and Pola X. He obviously read some obscure Herman Melville in his downtime. I'm not sure where his head was, what made this project seem like the next best step. Melville and Carax are an odd mix. An exhausting one, too. Maybe Carax should have gone with another Melville adaptation, something to do with scriveners or sperm whales. Who wouldn't line up to see Leos Carax's Moby Dick?