With a name like "Atomic Age," you expect an explosive rush of energy. However, despite its opportunity for more the film feels more like a slight blurt. The film seems like a study on hipsterdom, but seems to focus on all the most loathsome aspects of that culture.
Victor (Eliott Paquet) and his friend Rainer (Dominik Wojcik) take the train to Paris for a night out. They drink Red Bulls & vodka, sing their favorite songs, and muse about life. Victor has his eyes on the prize, and desperately wants a lady friend. Rainer is intent on being as emo as possible. As the night continues in a series of misfires, the boys' un-enchanted evening becomes an exploration of the homo-social bonds of friendship.
The pacing of the movie is painful. Three things happen in the entire film. Films don't need a ton of events, or crazy moments, but how can a film that spends a significant portion in a club feel so lacking in energy? There doesn't seem to be enough dynamism in what the boys have to say that make the "talking head" tone of the film work. Other films are able to lean on the charm of the actors, the subject matter, or the dialogue to carry us through a film where people just hang out for the night.
Hipsterdom is part of our culture whether you like it or not. However, "Atomic Age" seems to focus on what's the least interesting. Rainer is moody and emo the whole film. Rather than engage in conversation with Victor, he persists in speaking in poetry. The film does speak to the concept of masculinity and friendship and love between males, but must it come in such a pretentious package?
In an age where many youth films are so fast-paced and filled with jump cuts, it's an innovative choice to take such a slow pace. However, the pace ends up being slower than real time. The result is a lethargic annoyance with the subject matter. Also, rather than taking advantage of the audience's shock of the film being so slow and pedestrian, the subject matter feels more at place in a black and white existential film.
The film is ambitious. Considering the slow tone, you can see a lot of the themes coming a mile away. The complexities of male sexuality, the love between two men and the difference between friendship and love, the general malaise of our culture are all touched on. However, who cares if neither character is likeable? There seems to be a lack of redeeming qualities for the characters.
The DVD of the film only includes a trailer for the film. Sadly, the trailer is a huge spoiler for the film, because all of the pivotal moments in the film appear in the trailer.
Die-hard French film fanatics may enjoy this somber look at a night out at the club in Paris. However, it does lack the joie de vivre, the promise and the emotion of even a truly unsuccessful night out.