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By Kevin Carr | September 12, 2002

An obscure, sunglassed multi-millionaire Frenchman named Michel struggles to find something to fill the aimless void that is his life. He turns to everything from compulsive buying on the home shopping network to randomly sending pizzas to anyone he wishes whenever he wishes. Additional games he plays include standing in line all day at a movie theater and then not buying a ticket and spending all day at a dentist’s waiting room without an appointment.
One of Michel’s targets is a man named Carlos who owns a deli near his apartment. Michel begins harassing Carlos by loitering in his store, keeping meticulous inventory of his shop. After Michel is thrown out, he starts buying small insignificant items such as gum and potato chips for $50 apiece. Over the course of a month, Michel manages to build an inventory for his own store, which he opens up next door and gives the items away for free. Of course, this causes Carlos to go bankrupt.
Even when Carlos hires a young beauty to distract him, Michel manages to woo her over to his way of “life” and he is left with two crazy folks in turtlenecks harassing him.
I’m guessing the point of the film is to ponder what you would do if you were so rich you didn’t know what to do with yourself and what other people’s reactions would be to deliberate bizarre behavior. However, the message (if any) is muddled in the strange meandering of the story.
The performances were wooden, which was apparently the point with Michel. However, Carlos is void of facial expression even when Michel buys a soft drink manufacturer and then sues him for breach of his distributor’s contract for that drink. Additionally, the entire film is moved along with narration and jazz music, which quickly becomes irritating.
Overall, “Michel’s Plague” reminds me of a bad painting in a museum that is trying too hard to look like art. I’m sure there’s a point in there somewhere. Or perhaps not – and that’s the point.
But that still doesn’t save the film.

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