Note to myself: don’t get old. The alternative, namely death, may not be very pleasant, but calm and dignified and wrapped in vaguely biblical white sheets, he gets none of the bad press that old age does Gaspar Noé‘s “whirl. “Let’s not forget that in”Enter the void“The same director made death seem like quite a journey – infinitely better than the progressively degrading ravages of dementia or the sword of Damocles, which is a seedy ticker. These are the two ailments his “Vortex” stars – and therefore essentially his “Vortex” audience – suffer for a solidly grim, if often moving, two and a half hours, and frankly they don’t look like fun.
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The story of an elderly couple (“The mother and the whore“Star” Françoise Lebrun and the cinema Dario Argento in his first and he claims last leading role), whose winter years are overshadowed by degeneration and illnesses whose severity no one wants to admit, it seems to be a major departure from the glaring provocations of Noé’s previous career – except for the moment it is not. An extended heart attack scene takes place with unbearable, unshakable dispassion: the battered figure shuffles in a friendly apartment littered with books, which suddenly looks like an expansive, insurmountable attack path, endlessly from one room to the next, panting, stumbling, panting, with one Breast-like death rattle that plays an absurd and terrible kazoo … and you think, huh, maybe this is the most typical brand that Gaspar Noé, Prince of Provocatives, Emir of the Test of Endurance, Grand Poobah of the Unpaid, has ever been.
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The other giveaway that this latest in a line of dementia films doesn’t like the work of a more classic filmmaker. is Florian Zeller (“The father”), Harry Macqueen (“Supernova“) or Viggo Mortensen (“Falling“) Is that, unsurprisingly, there is a gimmick. What is surprising, however, is how well the gimmick works in this context and how it adds significant visual and thematic interest to what might otherwise be just too claustrophobic, too unforgiving, too determined. Here, Noé’s formal innovation, after the 3D of “love“(An ironic title considering that this film is most similar to Michael Hanekeis even stricter “love“) And the time reversal of“ Irreversible ”consists of filming the entire action – that is, a lot of inactivity – with two cameras, one of which is fixed on each character, and then playing both film sequences simultaneously on the split screen.
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The prologue is short. The mother (Lebrun), as she is credited with – it’s a compelling little detail that this long-married couple never calls themselves by name – and the father (Argento, appears in Italian-accented French, which gives another dimension of simple authenticity) ), sit outside on a small terrace and bump into each other. Maybe it’s been a while; maybe it’s her last good day. Be that as it may, in the next moment we can be seen in a graceful wide-angle shot of the two sleeping in bed in the morning when a black stripe runs down the center of the picture and suddenly separates them from each other, less a separation than a separation. On the right we see the mother getting up and absent-mindedly making coffee in the tiny kitchen, while on the left the father continues to sleep.
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Even aside from conjuring contortions and alienation, “Vortex” is just as impressive on a purely technical level as any of Noé’s more conspicuous conversations. Not only the choreography of two cameras in this small and cozy apartment must have caused a headache, but the images are carefully observed in relation to each other. Noé learned the lesson of “24” well; When asking an audience to divide their attention this way, you need to be sure they know where to look. And although they unfold simultaneously and truly while one picture is busy, the other will rest; one will be the center of attention and the other only marginally. In its own way, it’s a much more haunting technique than the 3D of “Love”, although admittedly we don’t see close-up ejaculation here – Noé, you coward.
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What exactly happens: nothing and everything. The mother, whose worsening psychological condition has become even more painful due to her previous career as a respected psychologist, wanders into the street and gets lost in a neighborhood shop that suddenly looks like a labyrinth. The father – a film critic with, in Europe, a long-time lover – panics and tries to find her. Lebrun’s evocation of her character’s confusion and fear is brilliant with pain: she comes in and out of mind, sometimes childlike and confused, sometimes vicious and suspicious. It’s hard to tell which condition is worse.
The first time her son (Alex Lutz), a recovering addict, overwhelmed by the prospect of growing up in a relationship with his parents, comes to visit, tries to kiss his mouth in confusion, then asks him to identify the strange man who keeps following her around whom she does not recognize as her husband. And at the moment that preoccupies me the most, in a phase of clarity in which the three are wondering what to do, the son suggests a nursing home and the father refuses to rumble, minimize – “it will be everything “Right, everything will be fine” – the mother simply begins to apologize. Lebrun’s performance is consistently so convincing that it is practically documentary, but at this moment this helpless “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” is pulverizing.
And in addition to excellence, there are times when technology creates its own intrigue. At some point during the son’s visit, the two frames are arranged in such a way that the mother disappears completely, penetrates the void between the pictures, is absent, is erased. At other times, the split screen creates tension when the mother methodically “tidies up” her husband’s study, tearing up his work and throwing it away while he has an unsuspecting shower. At other times it calms down: sometimes they intersect in each other’s rooms, and there is something uplifting about these little moments of synchronicity, as artificial as this elevation may be.
Most of the time, however, there is only one path such a story can take and that is down. This is by far Noé’s darkest and most mature work, and perhaps his most accessible in the sense that such human misery is, of course, accessible to all. His earlier experiments were with enormity; here, aside from that possibly exaggerated heart attack scene and an epilogue about the fate of the son who just feels too gloomy, the experiment is respectfully silenced, heartbroken. Undoubtedly, based on Noé’s own experiences in the real world, “Vortex” is a success, albeit a sad one: a dignified, sometimes desperate homage to, as the dedication reads, “all whose minds will fall apart in front of their hearts”. [B/B+]
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