The Book of Solutions Review

The Book of Solutions
The Book of Solutions
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Oscar-winning writer-director Michel Gondry delivers in The Book of Solutions, a film whose personal passions spilling out on paper brings about a surreal return to his form. This is Gondry’s first feature film in eight years during which time he directed music videos as well as television shows and short films that further connected him creatively with techno trailblazers The Chemical Brothers and actor Jim Carrey; thus, this will be advantageous to the cinema as he ventures into the disorder of creation through medicated filmmaker Marc Becker (Pierre Niney). Within the first five minutes of the movie, Marc has parted company with investors who have had enough of him in The Book of Solutions so his editor Charlotte (Blanche Gardin), producer Sylvia (Frankie Wallach) and intern Gabrielle (Camille Rutherford) are all tossed out with an unfinished film.

Gondry uses surrealistic visuals early on to echo Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind colleague Charlie Kaufman. He uses some very simple animation taken from his music video past as well as stop motion moments that let viewers into what makes Marc tick. Beyond that though, there are also Niney’s tremendous bouts of eccentricity shown through emotional outbursts against his die-hard production team followed by more physical acrobatics when producing the crucial parts for the musicals inside it.

However, there’s also some strategic voiceover where great comedy comes from, because we hear Marc running commentary at variance with what’s actually happening on screen. It is also accentuated by an understated ensemble cast led by Gardin and Wallach who give their characters this world-weary resignation as they play foil to Marc’s mood swings.

Perhaps one of the greatest tricks pulled off by Niney in The Book of Solutions is creating audience empathy simply by being selfish. Not by emotionally manipulating anyone but by doing just the opposite and turning Marc into a punch line for everything gone wrong. This self-destructive pattern that slowly comes to define the character is also the thing that brings people back to him after his unacceptable behavior. More than anything else, a constant need for artistic acceptance and a desire to be loved by others are what make him truly tragic—Marc not only cannot tell when something is finished but he also repudiates any disagreements or sharing of vision whatsoever.

In addition to a towering central performance that genuinely makes this film very funny, it is worth noting how much the absurd Gondry embraces. From having his aunt Denise (Francoise Lebrun) cook on camera and converting an old truck into an editing suite on a whim, we get the sense that Marc possesses some touch of diva in him which can be tolerated and sympathized by the audience when he starts losing his co-workers. This allows him to explore how forgiveness works in creative relationships and shows emotional depth beyond surrealism in The Book of Solutions when he turns away from it. Like Adaptation – where Kaufman solved creative conundrums through an onscreen alter ego (and his identical twin) – The Book of Solutions has that same inspired off-kilter feel, yet still manages to deliver a film with real heart and soul.


Michel Gondry returns to cinema with a heartfelt exploration of the creative process, plunging back into filmmaking without any safety net and doing all this through one of his best characters ever depicted on screen.

Read The Book of Solutions on Fmovies

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