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Poison Friends
Poison Friends
Actor: Malik Zidi; Thibault Vinçon; Alexandre Steiger; Thomas Blanchard; Natacha Régnier
Director: Emmanuel Bourdieu
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2007     1hr 47min

Studio: Strand Releasing Release Date: 07/17/2007


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Movie Details

Actor: Malik Zidi; Thibault Vinçon; Alexandre Steiger; Thomas Blanchard; Natacha Régnier
Director: Emmanuel Bourdieu
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/17/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Friend of the Friendless
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 06/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"André Morney (Thibault Vinçon) is a nasty piece of work: intelligent, evil, dissolute, possessive and a sociopath to boot. He is a star writing student at the Sorbonne and is also charming, handsome and a magnet for those, especially fellow college students, seeking a seemingly good friend foremost of all but also someone to lead them through the psychological and social quagmire that is called college: Eloi (Malik Zidi), unsure that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his famous novelist mother (Dominique Blanc), and aspiring actor Alexandre (Alexandre Steiger) -- are instantly dazzled by Morney's extemporaneous speech on the need for all writing to be "justified." Remember we are talking the Sorbonne here not Cal Berkeley.
Morney is out for total allegiance from Eloi and Alexandre and in return he imparts them with his knowledge of women, Love and all the things necessary to ease their initiation into the life of the college campus. On the surface it appears that Eloi and Alexandre need Morney more than he needs them but in reality it is Morney with the gaping hole in his psyche that requires constant filling and re-filling and this can only be accomplished when Morney is surrounded by emotional as well as physical acolytes.
"Poison Friends" ("Les Amitiés Maléfiques") as directed by Emmanuel Bourdieu is smart, witty and strikes the unusual balancing act of being about the Heart and the Soul on one hand (Morney as Mephistopheles juggling and manipulating his prey to do his bidding for the mere fun of it) and a psychological thriller on the other hand: college life, "academia" if you like, as a breeding ground for liars, cheats and the unbalanced who, being away from home for the first time in their lives, can gleefully release all their built up bile and disgust on an unsuspecting world.
No one does mean and nasty as well as the French: just look to the recent "The Page Turner" or any of Claude Chabrol's films for evidence of that and "Poison Friends" fits snugly and easily into this tradition of the sly, intelligent and resolutely real film.
Poison Friends - A Stylish Coming of Age French Psychologica
Mark | East Coast | 03/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

Poison Friends, "Les Amitiés maléfiques," is a very effective psychological drama. Directed by Emmanuel Bourdieu, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Marcia Romano, the story takes a simple concept and weaves some complex psychological layers on top of a very watchable film. Imagine a film where a French version of Six Degrees of Separation meets a much darker Dead Poets Society. Instead of a stuffy New England college or boarding school, or a bustling New York City, this film is set at the Sorbonne with Paris as it's backdrop. If Donna Tartt had written The Secret History to be set in modern day France, she might have come up with something very close to this tale. Rather than classics and antiquities, it is literature that is the obsession of choice for our group of students.

The highlights of this movie are the great characters and the way their relationships are portrayed through a very nicely written screenplay. In addition, the camera work provides a very authentic and beautiful portrayal of Paris and the French countryside that adds greatly to the mood and ambiance of the movie. This is not the over-exposed tourist footage of Paris that is common in so many movies, but has an unmistakable feel of realism.

Eloi Duhaut, played understatedly by Malik Zidi, is more than a little star-struck as he is thrust into the class of the very rigid and witty Professeur Mortier, played by Jacques Bonnaffé. Right off the bat, the professor makes it known just how demanding he and his course are going to be. A very canny André Morney, played by Thibault Vinçon, always seems to know the right answers. Along with Alexandre, played by Alexandre Steiger, and Edouard Franchon, played by Thomas Blanchard, Eloi becomes a sort of disciple to the charismatic Andre.

Andre's games of deception are both pointless and enthralling. He manipulates his would be friends by playing against their weaknesses, emotions and desires. He insults their work when he wants them to feel insecure, then directs them to pursue certain career paths to ensure they feel indebted to him. He toys with the objects of their affections only to take them away at his whim. Several good performances are put in by the female conquests of the various characters, many of whom end up as casualties of war in Andre's manipulations. And he does these things for little personal gain other than the desire to control those who seem too weak to take control of their own lives.

Yet Andre's flaws make him an even more compelling character, and the acting of Thibault Vincon draws us into his web. Both he and Malik Zidi won well-deserved awards for their roles. The film also won several prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including one for screenwriting, the Critics Week Grand Prize and the Grand Golden Rail.

Morney's fate provides an ironic backdrop to the story. Similarly, the friends who were once his mentees are all changed in some way by the end of the film, both in their perceptions of each other as well as themselves. The ending is somewhat anti-climactic, though this is apparently by design. This is one of those films that seems to grow in depth after each additional viewing.


This is a film that can be enjoyed on many levels: as a character study delivered by great actors, as a very nicely written movie with great dialogue, and as a very enjoyable drama to be watched for its own sake. If you love French film and psychological drama, this is a movie that you should add to your collection. You will most likely want to watch it several times over.

Quintessentially French
Eric Wilson | Santa Monica, CA | 04/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A look at French students dominated by one of their ranks who is about as nasty a piece of work as one will find. But the film is worth watching, especially as it progresses. A good look at French cultural life and the French they speak is pure joy. Not necessarity for the squeamish when it comes to the meanness, but the overall impression is positive. I am glad I saw this film."