Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France, 2002. Citizen Films, Cofimage, Elizabeth Films, Forensic Films, Group Dataciné, La Sofica Gimages 2, M6 Films, Procirep, Screenplay by Olivier Assayas. Cinematography by Denis Lenoir. Produced by Xavier Giannoli. Music by Jim O’Rourke, Sonic Youth. Production Design by François-Renaud Labarthe. Costume Design by Anaïs Romand. Film Editing by Luc Barnier. Cannes Film Festival 2002.
A ladder-climbing employee of a financial corporation (Connie Nielsen) arranges for the drug-induced mugging of a top company executive in order to take her place in the company’s latest negotation. Once in, she oversees her employer’s interests in buying into a Japanese adult anime company called demonlover.com and its American distributor. When the head of the Yankee operation (Gina Gershon) shows up in Paris for a meeting, things get dicey as we learn that Nielsen is actually secretly working for a rival anime company that wants to know the whole score and sabotage the deal. Things go terribly wrong, leading our heroine (?) down a rabbit-hole of suspicious colleagues, underworld dangers, and a secret torture website owned by demonlover (or is it?) which may or may not be a part of her fate. Director Olivier Assayas has created a fascinating though totally unpleasant view of the seedy underbelly of big business, with Nielsen giving a hypnotic performance. Chloe Sevigny (who learned French for her part) is terrific as a company underling with secret connections and motivations, and Charles Berling (totally opposite to his performance in Assayas’s Les Destinees) is Nielsen’s colleague. Just about everyone involved in the internet business, from the creators of these objectionable sites to the errant teenagers who steal their parents’ credit cards to view them, are held fully responsible for what happens in the story, making us truly wonder if Nielsen really is on the good or the bad side of our emotions. Sensitive viewers should beware the hard-hitting imagery included here, while for others the hand-held photography and blaring soundtrack will either make the experience mesmerizing or aggravating. Either way, it will be on your mind for a long time.