A naked man of few words and many muscles heaves himself out of subterranean muck and mire into an additional 95 minutes of mire and muck in "Eden Log."

A naked man of few words and many muscles heaves himself out of subterranean muck and mire into an additional 95 minutes of mire and muck in “Eden Log.” Dank, widely sold tale (Magnolia releases Stateside through its new genre arm, Magnet) has little to offer grownups not attuned to derivative geek tropes from videogames and manga comics. But though this futuristic Gallic spin on man attempting to harness nature borrows aplenty from its sci-fi antecedents (“Soylent Green”), co-scripter/helmer Franck Vestiel is a talent to watch, creating and sustaining a hermetic universe for his bewildered yet resourceful hero to explore.

Shot entirely on handheld cameras in locations 60 feet underground as well as in a sewer, pic possesses a willfully oppressive forward momentum. Tolbiac (Clovis Cornillac, also a producer) makes his way from the gooey depths toward the promised land of the surface, dealing with creepy, potentially lethal obstacles along the way. The Eden Log corporation, (whose logo — a tentacular cousin to the emblem for Timberland shoes — lives on in the labyrinth Tolbiac must navigate) had a great business plan for the biosphere. It had something to do with tending the now-wizened, potentially carnivorous tendrils of a giant plant. Which would make this a Really Big Shop of Horrors.

Lensed in colors so subdued they could be mistaken for an ink explosion in a coal mine, pic’s proud gunmetal palette seems unlikely to yield visibility on, say, a video iPod. Bold if mostly rehashed cinematic qualities and effective sound design get the most bang for limited bucks, with an eye-popping finale.

Eden Log

France

Production

A Bac Films Distribution (in France)/Magnet (in U.S.) release of an Imperia Films presentation of an Imperia Films, Bac Films, Les Trois 8 production, with participation of Canal Plus and CineCinemas. (International sales: Bac, Paris.) Produced by Cedric Jimenez. Co-executive producers, Bac Films, Clovis Cornillac. Directed by Franck Vestiel. Screenplay, Vestiel, Pierre Bordage.

Crew

Camera (color), Thierry Pouget; editor, Nicolas Sarkissian; production designer, Jean-Philippe Moreaux; set decorator, Jean-Philippe Moreteau; costume designer, Rachel Quarmby; sound (Dolby), Jerome Wiciak; assistant director, Julie Grumbach; casting, Laurence Wayser. Reviewed at Planet Hollywood, Paris, Dec 10, 2007. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Clovis Cornillac, Vimala Pons.
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