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A Michel Houellebecq/Iggy Pop combo may initially seem incongruous. However, these two enfants terribles, veteran disrupters of the worlds of literature and rock music on opposite sides of the Atlantic, share many affinities, not the least of which is the shared belief that the role of the artist is to “put your finger on the wound of society and press down real hard.”
Iggy’s first encounter with Houellebecq’s writing was like delving into his own autobiography, so much did it seem to describe his early experience as a geeky outsider. His inimitable voice, gravel-rough and poised, wonderfully recites excerpts from To Stay Alive: A Method, the French writer’s manifesto about the rewards of suffering.
Houellebecq’s “advice to young poets” combines reflections on artistic existence and the experiences of people in his own life, whom we also have the privilege of meeting. Far from the misérabilisme for which Houellebecq is renowned, this superbly crafted film mines the value in difference and otherness, often with deadpan and impish wit – something else the two men share. — SR
“Michel said that if you want this film to work, the people in the film should be really marginal, they shouldn’t be too successful. On the other hand, I had the idea that the film also speaks to the ordinary [person] – someone with a normal job in an office who wants to step out of his chains and do something with his life.” — director Erik Lieshout, quoted in The Independent