Michel Houellebecq, a literary provocateur known for making indelicate statements about Islam, plays himself in Guillaume Nicloux’s improvised imagining of a rumored 2011 kidnapping.

In the film’s early stages, Michel wanders around Paris with a Deputy Dawg expression, cigarette dangling from his lips as he hobnobs with friends and relatives (The Mother and the Whore's François Lebrun plays his sister). One day, three men (all nonactors) follow him into his flat and tape his mouth shut.

Once the MMA fighter, the bodybuilder, and the ex-soldier who looks like Hurley from Lost receive instructions from their boss, they load the little man into a trunk and drive him to the sticks.

At the home of a gracious Polish couple, Michel drinks, smokes, and noisily chews his food as the kidnappers pepper him with questions about literature. Suffice to say: This is a very French film. Soon, the fighter and bodybuilder are sharing workout tips, Hurley is sharing smokes, and Michel is disabusing them of the “facts” they’ve gleaned about his life—that he’s rich, that his brother is a diplomat—concluding, “You seem to think journalists tell the truth.”

If Jean Eustache returned from the dead to direct a 92-minute episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, it would look like The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq. recommended