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Nucingen Haus

A minor work by productive arthouse helmer Raoul Ruiz (it's his 17th feature in the past 10 years), "Nucingen House" is a hokey haunted-house yarn with some idiosyncratic pleasures for the faithful.

A minor work by productive arthouse helmer Raoul Ruiz (it’s his 17th feature in the past 10 years), “Nucingen House” is a hokey haunted-house yarn with some idiosyncratic pleasures for the faithful. Loosely adapted from an 1838 story by Balzac, pic, toplining Jean-Marc Barr and Elsa Zylberstein, tells the intermittently amusing tale of a writer and his wife taking up residence in a strange manse occupied by ghosts determined to hang around and cause mischief. Ruiz’s name ensures fest berths; commercial prospects appear slim.

Eye-catching location is a mansion on the Chilean side of the Andean Cordillera. Residence is won in a bet by author William Henry James III (Barr), who arrives with emotionally fragile wife Anne-Marie (Zylberstein) and finds the place overrun by ghosts including oddball maid Ully (Miriam Heard), presumptuous type Bastien (Laurent Malet) and Bastien’s slightly demented brother, Dieter (Thomas Durand). Non-linear narrative and fruity performances supply scattered chuckles, but supernatural horror sequences are clunky and non-scary. Photography allowing backgrounds to frequently burn into white severely undercuts the attempt to sustain a mood of malignant menace. Rest of tech work is just fair.

Nucingen Haus

France

  • Production: A MACT Prods., Margo Films production. (International sales: UMedia, Montreuil, France.) Produced by Francois Margolin. Executive producer, Christian Aspee. Directed, written by Raoul Ruiz, based on the story "La Maison Nucingen" by Honore de Balzac.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Inti Briones; editor, Beatrice Clerrico; music, Jorge Arriagada; production designers, Veronica Astudillo, Ruiz. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (World Cinema), Oct. 5, 2008. French, German, English dialogue. Running time: 87 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Jean-Marc Barr, Elsa Zylberstein, Audrey Marnay, Laurent Malet, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Thomas Durand, Luis Mora, Miriam Heard.
  • Music By: