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News from Planet Mars 2016

News from Planet Mars | Des nouvelles de la planète Mars

News from Planet Mars-Des nouvelles de la planete Mars

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Philippe Mars is a reasonable man in an unreasonable world.

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About the News from Planet Mars 💬

NEWS FROM PLANET MARS follows the unusual life of Philippe Mars (François Damiens) a reasonable man in an unreasonable world. He's trying to be a good father, a kind ex-husband, a nice colleague, and an understanding sibling. But the planets have not been exactly aligned in his favor lately. With his son turning into a hardcore vegan, his daughter into a pathological overachiever and his sister selling oversized paintings of their naked parents, it seems to our ever-so prudent Philippe that everyone around him is starting to behave more and more erratically... When his more than over the top colleague Jerôme (Vincent Macaigne) accidentally chops off his ear then moves into Philippe's apartment, things start to go from bad to insane for our hero.


The film begins on Philippe Mars's (François Damiens) 49th birthday, which nobody else could care less about. A divorced father trapped in an uninspiring job and a humdrum home life, Philippe seems to have lost faith in the future. It sounds like the premise of a standard psychological drama... but the film is anything but that. How did it come about?

Dominik Moll: I felt like doing a comedy, but a peculiar, offbeat kind of comedy about a person who tries his best to remain sensible in a world - our world - that is becoming more and more senseless, a character born and bred in the 20th century who feels out of his depth in the 21st. At the beginning of the film, Philippe Mars feels trapped by his own self and his life, in which he finds it increasingly difficult to perceive any meaning. But a string of events leads him to see everything - his work, his children, his life - in a different way. Originally, I also intended to show the corporate world, with its pecking orders, powers, and cruelties, and something of that remains in the film: for example, Philippe is a computer programmer in an IT company, doing work that few ordinary people could begin to understand, in an open-space world that is quite absurd but fascinating, like countless other offices today.

With a boss who goes around handing out sweets to his employees...

Dominik Moll: Yes, I lifted that straight out of a management tutorial!

In his work and home life, Philippe tries to do the right thing, but he seems to find it hard to step out of his role as a sensible observer. It's as if he can't bring himself to engage fully.

Dominik Moll: The issue of engagement is key. The characters who gravitate around Philippe are all committed to something or other. For Grégoire and Chloé, it's vegetarianism; for Sarah and her mother, it's work; for Jérôme, it's love. Philippe Mars stands up for certain principles, including the principle of always being sensible, but he doesn't realize that he has become essentially static. Jérôme is the tornado that makes him move.

To everyone's surprise, after the ''accident'' that costs Philippe half an ear, he lets Jérôme move in with him. His daughter Sarah accuses him of ''indulging a death wish''.

Dominik Moll: For once, Sarah gets it wrong. Philippe probably feels subconscious that Jérôme's craziness can bring him something beneficial. This is what stops him from throwing Jérôme out, even when Jérôme goes way over the top! Even François Damiens found the idea a little hard to take. He was afraid it would make Philippe seem too passive, but I'm certain that a character becomes really interesting only when he acts in a way that you yourself wouldn't.

Why are you so fascinated by disruptive characters?

Dominik Moll: Perhaps I think I'm too sensible myself, which makes me enjoy imagining troublemakers... but one thing's for certain: Gilles and I love dreaming up situations in which our protagonists' excessively organized lives go off the rails.

You have a lot of fun with that in ''NEWS FROM PLANET MARS''.

Dominik Moll: Yes. The comedic side of the film is based on the principle of build-up: the build-up of physical and mental blows inflicted on Philippe, the build-up of absurd situations, the build-up of intruders in his flat, etc. When Philippe wakes up at the beginning of the film, he is alone at home with his cat. Then his two children blow in, followed by Jérôme, followed by the frogs, followed by his sister and her dog, and then finally Chloé, the vegetarian activist. Not to mention his ex-wife on TV and the ghosts of his mother and father... It's as if the film, like Philippe Mars's brain, fills up until it overflows and tips over into another dimension.

Dreams and even fantasy, run all the way through the film. Philippe's dead parents appear to him and talk with him, getting smaller every time! Also, there are the recurring shots of Philippe as an astronaut and a quite surreal moment of communication between Philippe and his ex-wife through the television screen.

Dominik Moll: Gilles and I enjoy films that have an ''all in the mind'' dimension when you can imagine that everything is happening inside the protagonist's head. We had a hunch that such an approach would lend a distinctive tone to this comedy. We wanted the audience to have doubts about how real what happens to Philippe really is, and to wonder whether the events that follow the meat cleaver incident might be purely imaginary. Is Philippe still alive? The appearances of his dead parents and his dreams add to this feeling.

So it's like being swept up in one big nightmare, albeit a rather joyful one?

Dominik Moll: It was to accentuate this nightmarish quality that I wanted the film to be very nocturnal. Almost all the action happens after dark, and during the daylight scenes, like the ones at the office, we seldom see the sky and hear no sound from the outside world. All we hear are the fans and the noise of the computers, which helps create a rather unreal and claustrophobic atmosphere. It feels as if we're going through a long tunnel with Philippe. Not until the end, when they set free the frogs, do we finally see the sun for the first time.

The light at the end of the tunnel! So the ending is quite upbeat.

Dominik Moll: Upbeat, yes. Philippe has changed. By risking his life to rescue the frogs, he proves to his son that he has abandoned his sensible observer's posture and rediscovered a taste for risk and adventure, and therefore for life, however ludicrous his rescue mission may seem. As his parents say to him before they disappear for the last time, ''What are you doing, Philippe? Are you off your head?''

Philippe's 17-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son see him as a loser. ''You're stuck in the 20th century'', his daughter tells him. The film is very relevant and funny about parent/child relationships.

Dominik Moll: Parent/child relationships are one of the film's key themes. Sarah, Philippe's daughter, is pretty ruthless in her judgments. She might seem unfair, given that Philippe does his best to be a considerate parent who tries to teach his children well. But like many parents (including me), he often gets the wrong end of the stick. He wants his kids to share his tastes and concerns and ideals; he wants them to enjoy the Marx Brothers etc., but at the same time, he's no good at putting himself in their shoes. He thinks his son's vegetarianism is a ''foible'' and can't see why his daughter is so intent on being successful. We tend to forget that our children haven't had the same lives and experienced the same history as us.

Philippe's mother and father tell him it's the parents' job to give their children ''ideals and something called faith in the future.''

Dominik Moll: And Philippe rightly answers that ''faith in the future isn't easy these days.'' It's a very important theme in the film. Before you can pass on ideals, you have to listen to your children, which isn't all that easy. That, too, is part of Philippe Mars's journey: learning to pay attention to his children again and rediscovering a set of ideals.

Where do all these wacky ideas that pepper the movie come from? For example, Chloé and Philippe's son's weird fixation with vegetarianism? Or the dotty old neighbor who claims to have been President Giscard d'Estaing's chauffeur?

Dominik Moll: The bit about Giscard's chauffeur rings bells that are familiar and a bit absurd. They tie Philippe into the last century, which is so near, yet already so long ago. When Gilles and I write together, we have a lot of fun inventing these kinds of details and storing them up... and throwing most of them away, so as not to distract from the key dynamics of the story. Every single detail has to fit together in the end and serve the story - like the bit about vegetarians, which plays a key part in the plot.

Let's talk about the main actor. François Damiens is stunningly convincing in the role of Philippe Mars.

Dominik Moll: I really liked François Damiens' performance in Axelle Ropert's movie, ''The Wolberg Family''. He brought great humanity to the role, an understated funniness and a lot of emotion, in a very special way that was all his own. It was exactly what I was looking for in Philippe Mars. It's not an easy part to play because Philippe spends a lot of time taking things on the chin, reacting rather than acting. But thanks to François, we can empathize with him. François has a gift for endearing us to the characters he plays. One of my favorite moments is when he's watching the Marx Brothers movie ''The Big Store'' on TV with his children. The way the expression on his face changes from almost childlike joy to disenchantment when he sees how bored his kids are... I love it every time I see it.

News from Planet Mars Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Dominik Moll

Writing Credits

Dominik Moll

Gilles Marchand


François Damiens

Vincent Macaigne

Veerle Baetens

Jeanne Guittet

Tom Rivoire

Catherine Samie

Michel Aumont

Philippe Laudenbach

Olivia Côte

Julien Sibre

Léa Drucker

Music by

Adrian Johnston

Cinematography by

Jean-François Hensgens

Genres: Drama, Comedy

Countries: France, Belgium

News from Planet Mars Official Trailer

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