Tribeca Film Festival: Jean Dujardin's Thriller Mobius Is Sexy, Never Thrilling
Named for an analogy in its third act, M÷bius is a thriller with too many twists to follow. In its first moments the story bounds from one location to the next, briskly introducing one swath of characters after another while swerving into three different languages--four if you count the finance lingo. As its plot progressed I was able only to follow its broadest strokes. Ultimately, not even the smoking hot sexual chemistry of its leads (Jean Dujardin and CÚcile De France) could save this confounding thriller. But, like M÷bius, I am getting ahead of myself.
From what I could figure, the film follows the beautiful Alice Redmond (De France), a finance genius who was booted out of the U.S. for her part in the financial crisis of 2008. Her unscrupulous money making prowess makes her a hot commodity to the greedy and vile, so she's ushered into the world of espionage by Russia's FSB, which one character explains is what the KGB has transformed into. Alice is meant to trap a Russian "businessman" Ivan Rostovsky (Tim Roth) who wants to launder his ill-gotten gains; however, this cool, whip-smart blonde not only lures in this big fish but also unknowingly seduces Gregory Lioubov, the FSB agent charged with managing the operation (Dujardin). Well, she knowingly seduces him, but doesn't know he's a secret agent. She thinks he's a gangster turned publisher/sex god. The CIA figures in here somewhere too.
Maybe this seems like an intriguing premise to you, but the film's jumbled narrative thrust makes it almost impossible to follow as deceptions stack up. This muddles the stakes and makes its climax more confusing than anything else. Billed as an erotic thriller, it does have a raw sex appeal as Dujardin and De France bite, kiss, fuck, and at paw at each other with an animalistic ferocity. But it's hard to be engaged with their story when you have no idea what's going on around them or what to root for.
The alliances are unclear to start with so double crosses are blindsiding. The characters are crudely sketched plot conveniences. The editing is clunky, killing the so-called thriller's momentum. In the wake of Argo--a film that leapt between languages, locations, and organizations at odds with great success--a thriller this threadless is infuriating. Starring two of my favorite French stars I expected better. They deserve better. As it is M÷bius is a waste of its talented, sexy cast, who even with all their shared charisma couldn't pull M÷bius out of its endlessly perplexing trajectory.
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