The idle rich are up to no good in the possibly self-indulgent but undeniably haunting "Bunker Paradise," a delectably sordid look at how the fortunes of a movie-star-handsome taxi driver evolve once he stumbles on a band of bored patrician jerks. Fest-ready oddity opens March 22 in Gaul.

The idle rich are up to no good in the possibly self-indulgent but undeniably haunting “Bunker Paradise,” a delectably sordid look at how the fortunes of a movie-star-handsome taxi driver evolve once he stumbles on a band of bored patrician jerks. Main tale runs parallel to an enigmatic, minimalist account of a wide-eyed boy with a wooden samurai sword who travels solo from Belgium to Japan. Fest-ready oddity, in which the sex is furtive and the wounding violence mostly emotional, opens March 22 in Gaul.

Jean-Paul Sartre declared that “Hell is other people.” Chilly widescreen look at the uppermost tip of consumer society — where the women are gorgeous and the men are cynical — posits that hell may be techno music plus other people.

Mimmo (Francois Vincentelli) picks up a fare from a striking post-modern pleasure palace but the girl — drunk, drugged, abused — falls out of his cab and dies. Mimmo finds the lord of the manor, John Deveau (Jean-Paul Rouve), aloof and unconcerned. John’s sidekick, David Dermont de Villard (Bouli Lanners), still has some human feeling but dismisses the incident.

There’s an endless party in progress and frivolity rules. John’s wife, Laetitia Cornet d’Anthes (fashion model Audrey Marnay, in a sensitive debut), seems quite taken with Mimmo.

Mimmo’s adoring mom (the always singular Yolande Moreau) supports his acting aspirations. When the police investigation is inconclusive — thanks to John’s powerful and contemptuous father, Henri (Jean-Pierre Cassel, in excellent form) — Mimmo starts slumming with his new, gratuitously cruel pals, who seem to have singled out Mimmo to alleviate their wealthy tedium.

Ascetically thin and magnificently tortured, Rouve, known mostly for comic roles, is a hollow dandy on the razor’s edge. Vincentelli’s Mimmo is a hunky plaything from the lower classes for the way-too-rich.

Parallel tale in Japan is cryptic, mystical, yet somehow a fittingly serene companion piece to the agitation of the central narrative. Scripter-helmer Stefan Liberski opts for a silver blue cast to the lensing that coats the pic like a permanent fog.

Bunker Paradise

Belgium-France

Production

A EuropaCorp Distribution (in France) release of an Artemis Prods. (Belgium)/Liaison Cinematographique, MP Prods. (France) production, in association with Media Services, RTBF, BE TV, with the participation of Scope Invest, Climax Films, Sienne, TPS Star. (International sales: EuropaCorp, Paris.) Produced by Patrick Quinet, Luc Besson. Co-executive producers, Michel Propper, Alain Mamou-Mani. Directed, written by Stefan Liberski.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Paul de Zaeytijd; editor, Ewin Ryckaert; music, Casimir Liberski; production designer, Hubert Pouille; costume designers, Agnes Dubois, Natasha Francotte, Christian Schnezler; sound (Dolby SRD), Christian Monheim, Philippe Baudhuin, Matthieu Cox; associate producers, Genevieve Lemal, Alexandre Lippens; assistant director, Christophe Fontaine; casting, Richard Rousseau, Patrick Hella, Kadija Leclere. Reviewed at Club Marbeuf, Paris, March 9, 2006. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Jean-Paul Rouve, Francois Vincentelli, Audrey Marnay, Bouli Lanners, Sacha Bourdo, Yolande Moreau, Jean-Pierre Cassel.
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