College life is a lifestyle of partying and getting some. Well, at least, that is how it is perceived in American movies. So, I was a bit taken back when I saw “Poison Friends” – a French movie with the novel idea of showing students actually studying. (Say what?)

The story involves an opinionated genius named Andre. The student’s intelligence and personality is prodigious. If brain could be flexed like muscles, he’d be the big man in campus. His friends worship him, listen to his advice, and follow his suggestions. They trust him completely. Of course, just because Andre has a brilliant mind, it doesn’t mean he’s also good-hearted.

“Poison Friends” slowly develops into a psychological suspense. We don’t know what Andre is up to, yet we sense he’s up to no good. He is a cunning liar; a manipulative schemer. He is smartly played by actor Thibault Vinçon, in an intense and mesmerizing performance. The movie has a voyeuristic approach to the unfolding of the events. It’s like sitting at an academic arena and watching mind games play out. While blood might not be spilled, ego will suffer a blow.

Grade: A-

Malik Zidi, Thibault Vinçon, Thomas Blanchard, Dominique Blanc, Jacques Bonnaffe, and Natacha Regnier
Screenplay by
Marcia Romano
Emmanuel Bourdieu
Directed by
Emmanuel Bourdieu
Not Rated

Trailer (in French)