Adapt Houellebecq, the bet of France 2 with “Elementary particles”

(AFP) – Tackle Houellebecq, the enfant terrible of French letters … This is the bet that France 2 has launched with “Elementary particles”, adaptation of the eponymous novel, presented this week out of competition at La Rochelle Fiction Festival.

In two 60-minute episodes, this telefilm retraces, from the end of the 1960s to the 2000s, the journey of half-brothers, Michel Djerzinski (Jean-Charles Clichet), a genius researcher incapable of loving, and Bruno Clément (Guillaume Gouix), a sexually obsessed literature professor, attracted to very young girls, desperate for the quest for pleasure.

Michel Houellebecq’s best-seller, released in 1998, has already been brought to the big screen in 2006 by German filmmaker Oskar Roehler, and directed at the theater by Julien Gosselin, who created the event at the Avignon festival in 2013.

His first novel, “Extension of the field of wrestling”, also inspired a film by Philippe Harel, in 1999, while the director Guillaume Nicloux is preparing a feature film adapted from “Submission”.

But for France Télévisions, this is a first. And the sign that the public service “broadens its field of action,” said the director of the adaptation, Antoine Garceau (“Ten percent”) to AFP.

“A few years ago we would never have been able to tackle Houellebecq,” confirms Anne Holmes, the group’s director of fiction.

Antoine Garceau agreed to take this “risk” after reading the “formidable” scenario of Gilles Taurand who according to him “made the right choice of cuts, added the link between the different stories” of a “abundant” text. While respecting “the universe of Houellebecq which can be desperate and pathetic, and at the same time make you smile”.

“The challenge was also not to erase the sulphurous side of Houellebecq. There was no question of watering down the novel where sexual intercourse and sex are very important, and at the same time, we are on the service. audience, we tried to find the right balance, ”explains the director.

Upset by the story of these two brothers who “suffered in their childhood from a lack of love” and only cross paths with happiness “furtively”, Antoine Garceau was “a little frightened” by the novel. “He describes a lot the human relationship and the two brothers in a clinical way, like subjects of study or laboratory”. In the adaptation we “tried to add a little humanity perhaps to these two characters”.