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Film review: Under the Sun of Satan

Published: Thursday, July 13 1989 12:00 a.m. MDT

Gerard Depardieu is France's most interesting actor, but he makes so many movies it's no wonder he alternates wondrous films like "Jean de Florette" with occasional clunkers.

"Under the Sun of Satan" is such a clunker.

This is a movie so slow and boring you won't find yourself pondering its many incongruities because you'll be too busy making up grocery lists in your mind or wondering what to fix Aunt Tillie for dinner Saturday.

The plot has that old standby, the tortured priest, coming to grips with his calling, himself and with some rather odd encounters with the face of evil.

After an introduction to Depardieu's rather torturous methods of self-flagellation and some talky explanations of his feelings about the world being too sinful and himself being above it all, or something like that, the film suddenly shifts to the story of a pregnant teenage girl, played by Sandrine Bonnaire.

Bonnaire meets with the lover who got her pregnant, explains that she has told her parents about them, they make love and she kills him. Later, after the death is ruled a suicide, she meets with another lover and tells him that she killed the man who made her pregnant. So they make love.

Ah, the French.

These scenes with Bonnaire go on for so long with Depardieu completely absent from the film that you may wonder if a reel from some other movie was accidentally substituted. But no, eventually the movie returns to Depardieu and we know that he and Bonnaire are in for a showdown.

But it doesn't go in an obvious direction. This movie is too ethereal and high-handed for that. True, plot doesn't mean much in a film that is all talk and nonsense, but instead of anything resolving itself everything is vague and mysterious.

Some might call that artistic license, but for me it was just pretentious and ill-conceived twaddle. Movies that leave you thinking are one thing, movies that put you to sleep are something else. This film lands in the latter camp.

"Under the Sun of Satan" is the dullest of movies and even Depardieu's charisma can't save it.

Though unrated it would doubtless get a PG for violence and implied sex.

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