A prominent film website describes the premise of “Carre blanc” thus: “In the future, society’s weak are killed and used for meat.” This is either one helluva false assumption, or it’s symptomatic of writer-director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti’s excessively cryptic debut feature, in that such a major conceptual point is barely even suggested onscreen. Bleak, minimalist dystopian sci-fi a la “1984” and “THX-1138,” pic epitomizes the carefully thought-out aesthetic package with almost zero interest in narrative and audience engagement. Adventurous genre fans will discover it via disc or download; a few will be rapt, many bored.
As children, Philippe (Sami Bouajila) and Marie (Julie Gayet) met when she saved him from committing suicide as his mother had. Two decades later, he’s become the perfect managerial tool of an all-pervasive corporation, subjecting subordinates to psychologically and/or physically harmful tests they can’t possibly pass, while she laments their childlessness and his obedience to the devouring machine. An initially striking, obtuse objet d’art, “Carre Blanc” soon grows turgid as one realizes the precise, sterile visual and ominous audio tactics are all that is going to “happen.”