Rumination of Gaspar Noé on old age – Festival de Cannes – Deadline


“It would be better if I was dead”, the old lady laments to her even older husband in the striking new film by Gaspar Noé Vortex, and he makes no effort to disagree. While its title might have worked very well for one of the still-obsessed director’s previous films, it serves here as an indicator of life swirling in the sewers. This close-up of a married couple on the verge of the inevitable opens a surprising and demanding new chapter in the thrilling and flamboyant career of the director, normally preoccupied with sex, drugs and music.

Stylistically, the nearly 2.5-hour film, which was billed as a ‘Cannes premiere’ and not in competition, is notable in that the two main characters, a longtime married couple hanging out in their crowded Paris apartment. , were shot with separate cameras. and presented simultaneously next to each other on the screen; throughout, you can watch whoever you want, or both at around the same time. Sometimes they cross over and intervene.


Definitely, it is not the Gaspar No̩ that we know and that we sometimes love. This time he does not tell his usual subject, youth, but old age and impending death. As such, it joins a remarkable Рand very, very different Рfilm on the same subject, the daring and shocking black-and-white drama of 2019 veteran Mexican director Arturo Ripstein. Devil between the legs, like rare unvarnished or sentimental examinations of old age.

Noah’s previous films are visually bold, if not aggressive, but this one takes a rather different approach. The two main characters, a long-time married couple, are portrayed by veteran horror Italian maestro Dario Argento (The bird with the crystal plumage, Suspiria, Tenebrae, et al.), who is now 80 and looks very cranky, and French actress Françoise Lebrun (The mother and the whore and numerous outings with Marguerite Duras and Paul Vecchiali), 77 years old.

Physically, everything in sight is old, not just the people but the neighborhood, the buildings, the books, the typewriter, all the papers and other crap in the house. Argento moves better than Lebrun, who looks like he hasn’t been out in years and walks around without quite knowing what’s going on.

For his part, the man intends to work, to do something, but most often he complains or looks for a book that he cannot find or talks about something that he intends to do. . More than anything, he is overwhelmed by the impressive number of books that surround him in every part of the apartment, although he sometimes finds one that interests him; he was a film journalist and has books on Renoir, Dreyer and Sjostrom on hand.

As the separate cameras follow each of them on different sides of the screen, there is a natural tendency to go back and forth between the two. They move slowly, especially Lebrun, and they are sometimes sedentary. Cinematically, the concept mirrors some of the split screen techniques Noah used on previous projects, but here the technique is constant, the effect very different, for very obvious reasons.

It is quite clear that Lebrun has lost almost all of his abilities; she is able to move very slowly around the apartment, but she can barely speak coherently enough to be understood. By right, she should be in an assisted living facility, but Argento selfishly rejects the idea, no doubt believing that he is still able to fend for himself.

For some time now, it has not been certain that Noah’s bet will pay off. You get used to looking at the panels side by side, but if you know you’re going to be watching this for 2 and a half hours, you kind of have to prepare yourself for the long haul. Other people do show up on occasion and the movie briefly takes to the streets, but it’s still a very claustrophobic experience, one that you have to settle in like a fairly long plane flight.

Still, the extended time spent with these two provides a toned, depressing, realistic, and utterly sobering glimpse into what your grandparents, parents, and someday you’ll have to deal with if you live long enough – another way to put it is that what Noah confronts us with is a universal experience. The jury’s out on for a while whether or not its two-camera approach brings something more to the table, although the novelty definitely adds an extra and unusual layer of interest.

The images that remain most indelible in the mind are of Lebrun hanging out in the apartment, clearly in pain, feeling utterly powerless to improve her situation and yet not being properly cared for by her husband. Others try to lend a hand, but daddy is a selfish rascal deep down. The two actors have exceptional moments.

You have to prepare yourself to a certain extent to watch Vortex and settle in for the long haul, but sure enough you haven’t seen anything like it either.


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