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I like movies with itchy edges and a sprinkle of psychological cleansing, those which are a well-conducted exorcism of established scenarios and worn-out icons. Well, I don't mind if they have a certain degree of fluidity and incorporate techniques that distract the viewer from the screen, because although they are based on anticipated conventions, they help build a consistent plot. But over-caffeinated directors often choose to portrait things in a more scrambled way, one that has you rewinding the tape over and over again. Those who sacrifice the creative beast at the altar of visual and aural escapism get my two thumbs way up.
So, when I pressed PLAY to watch Olivier Assayas' independent film Demonlover, I first trembled and then fretted. The flick kicks off as a predictable and harmless thriller, like those that entertain you on Friday nights when you switch off your brain for the weekend. Diane (Connie Nielsen), buried up to her neck in deceiving schemes and dollar-loaded contract deals, dopes the drink of someone whose place she wants to take. Not the most ground-breaking move, is it? But that is when the plot gets interesting, and the whole thing ceases to be the piss puddle it was turning into.
A French team of entrepreneurs is supposed to ink a contract with a Tokyo-based manga company salivating for expansion to the West. Playing with people has its price but Diane, an astute spy, is willing to take that risk, even when she finds herself in the trap she helped build. Holding her hand as she walks from the ranks of a pretentious high executive all the way down to become no more than a puppet, driven into the core of an interactive torture chamber, broadcasting live on the Internet, is like descending to the mighty fire to trade her soul with the Devil.
Building a twisted game of espionage and mind-blowing twists, sometimes reminiscent of David Lynch's epic Mulholland Drive (which also had a blonde and a brunet as main characters), the director leads the viewer into the fascinating and perilous world of animated pornography. Demonlover is a high-tech thriller with a handful of attention-grabbing features. For enthusiasts of anti-dogmatic filmmaking, it also benefits from such savvy artistic options as shaky cameras and grainy close-ups.
This trilingual endeavour has its characters going back and forth on the two extremes of the acting spectre. They are mischievous and have no scruples to show, but they spend most of the running time acting like bendable spirits sniffing around the biggest revenue of the deal. The puzzling character played by Chloë Sevigny is the one who adds the pepper to this sometimes insipid flick. She's all over the place, playing her own game, obeying when she's entitled to and bossing around when she can.
The unrated Director's Cut version also features the making of, interviews with the cast, a session of Q&A with the director, and some bonus footage, unseen in the R-rated edition. But the most thrilling addend to this 150-minute bonus disc is the unveiling process of the soundtrack, composed by Sonic Youth, which adds a hell lot of mayhem and ambience to the movie itself.
SEE ALSO > www.demonlovermovie.com
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.
See other articles by Helder Gomes.
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