A recent college graduate flees to Paris after a break-up, where his involvement with a prostitute begins to reveal a potentially dark recent past.
Believe it or not, when you’re reviewing a movie, it actually isn’t fun to gush about all the things that worked right in the film. Why? Because it’s hard to write that stuff, while keeping the review glued together properly. It’s easy to write all the things that make a stinker stink the way it does…..but when so much is right with a film, that’s when your job as a reviewer gets tough!
It’s not often that I say a film really deserves some awards, but this film REALLY deserves some awards. From what I can find on the interwebs, this movie does everything you’d want a dark, sinister film to do: first, the photography is amazing! Weird angles (e.g. only showing character’s torsos while they speak, etc.) and some trippy wave-length visualizations seem to convey that we, too, are in the lead character’s psychotic dream-state. But, the hitch is: he just seems like a nice guy. So much of this movie does a perfect job of conveying ‘things aren’t really as you see them’.
We’re quickly introduced to Simon, a recent college graduate staying in Paris to try to mend his recently-broken heart. He seems to be your standard American nice guy, who majored in Neuroscience and just seems to’ve lost his way since his long-term girlfriend gave him the shaft.
It’s hard to over-emphasize how all the ‘little things’ come together so properly on this one. There’re loads of shots where the camera just follows this guy around town (from behind) and we feel like we’ve been tasked with keeping an eye on him…..as if he’s up to something and we just know we haven’t quite figured out what that something is.
Brady Corbett plays the lead and delivers a perfect blend of sweet, charming and quietly evil. I don’t want to ruin any key elements, but it’s intriguing how we come to learn very slowly what a liar his character really is…..that was played exceedingly well (certainly, the writer deserves a nod in that regard, as well). Depth-wise, the character’s overall flow breaks apart a bit late in the film, but I do love that we as the audience slowly come to believe that just about everything this guys says might be a lie. I don’t think it’s a major spoiler to say that while it’s never concretely confirmed that Simon actually is, in fact, a ‘killer’, he certainly has the ethical fortitude of an alley cat. As we get tiny glimpses into his massive web of lies and deceit (although in small, slow doses), a sense of general unease seems to seep from the pores of this film. When I learned this was an IFC film I didn’t blink an eye….this is their standard fair.
The two female leads play their respective parts flawlessly. While each is certainly different in where they fit in, I couldn’t imagine anyone else in those roles. The NC-17 level sex scenes feel as real as it gets, and they seem to be punishing each other at these times more than sharing affection. What viewers might like about this one is how it doesn’t really neatly fit into any single category….it’s not exactly horror, romance, drama or thriller….but it actually sort of is ALL of those blended together.
You hear people say that sometimes a movie’s score becomes a character unto itself. That happened here, as the score sort of drifts into and out of certain scenes like a sly little animal visiting for a moment of devilish voyeurism and then scampering away to soak it all in. Antonio Campos, the director of co-writer is a person to watch! He’s quite young to be cranking out stuff like this and I feel it will only get better.
While certainly not one for ‘Family movie night’, if you’re looking for dark and mildly disturbing, this one will fill that slot readily. Just for keeping me engaged while I was unable to figure out how it was doing just that, I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.