"“Quite simply a boring movie...”"
Having spent numerous occasions as a teenager waiting patiently for a certain Mr. Pete Doherty to show up at a concert he had been scheduled to perform at, only to then pick up my belongings and trudge home an hour later unfulfilled, now, there is nowhere for him to escape to, as he tries his hand in acting, and although Confessions of a Child of the Century has already been filmed, and he is definitely in it – I was still expecting a no-show, which, this time around, may have just been for the best.
Directed by French filmmaker Sylvie Verheyde and set in 1830's Paris, Doherty plays Octave; a despairing bachelor who is left alone and brokenhearted when his mistress Elise (Lily Cole) betrays his trust. Turning to a life of debauchery, Octave seeks refuge in Brigitte (Charlotte Gainsbourg) – a widow ten years his senior. However, despite falling passionately in love with one another, the pair struggle to leave behind previous heartache as they must learn to love again.
In Doherty's defence, he is actually one of the few redeeming features to come out of this otherwise tedious cinematic experience. Considering this is his acting debut, credit must go to him for taking on such a challenge. Rather than play it safe (he's doing that in his second film Rock and Roll Fuck'n'Lovely') and proceed into familiar territory, to tackle the lead role in a two hour period piece is admirable. Having said that, he is playing a libertine, which feels somewhat familiar.
Doherty simply bears an on-screen presence, which in effect is what made him such a good frontman, as the attributes required are roughly the same as to what makes a strong lead role. You can barely draw your eyes away from him, as he carries this boyish charm that entraps you. His narration of the piece works well also as his voice is poetic and vulnerable. However, you do get a sense that after he finishes every line there's a glint of triumph in his eyes that he managed to remember what he was supposed to say.
Performances aside – which are strong on the whole – the film suffers from having a terribly inane and predictable script. There is only so much you can do when the screenplay is so weak, not managing to bring these characters to life. No matter whether they fall in or out of love, neither notion has any conviction behind it. Meanwhile you don't get a sense for the period in which the film is set, and without being consistently reminded, you couldn't tell for one moment this was supposed to be in Paris.
Confession of a Child of the Century is quite simply a boring movie. You can scan the thesaurus for use of a better synonym, but ultimately the only word that truly sums this title up is just boring, as not nearly enough happens to warrant this film exceeding the two hour mark. Nor even an hour, for that matter.