About the only thing in its proper place in “I’m Not Dead” is star Mehdi Dehbi’s hair (frequently checked). Actually, the actor’s perf is the most positive element here, since this story of a student feeling possessed by the spirit of his dead professor is incapable of holding on to any of the insights it occasionally strives to make. Technically slicker than the helmer’s debut, “The String,” this sophomore effort wastes a good cast on pedestrian dialogue and DOA situations. Biz prospects are slim.Whiz student Yacine (Dehbi) is embarrassed when his job as bike messenger brings him to the home of professor Richard Artaud (Emmanuel Salinger). Their obvious sexual tension, which Ben Attia oddly drops, takes Artaud’s wife (Maria de Medeiros) by surprise. The young man is invited out with them; that night, the professor dies and Yacine awakens with only his mentor’s memories, none of his own. The helmer wants to say things about racism (Yacine is of Algerian origin) and opportunity, yet most of the well-lit scenes lead nowhere or miss their mark. Music, channeling Stravinsky and Satie, is clumsily inserted.
A Mercredi Films production, in association with Motek Films. Produced by Florence Laneurie, Orly Dahan. Directed, written by Mehdi Ben Attia.
Camera (color), Gregoire de Calignon; editor, Emmanuelle Castro; music, Karol Beffa; production designer, Gilles Graziano; costume designer, Marlene Gerard; sound, Alan Savary, Sebastien Wera; assistant director, Clement Inglesakis. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 8, 2013. Running time: 99 MIN.
Mehdi Dehbi, Maria de Medeiros, Emmanuel Salinger, Driss Ramdi, Judith Davis, Laurent Bateau, Albert Delpy, Slimane Dazi, Nicolas Maury, Salim Kechiouche, Alain Azerot, Dimitri Storoge.