Lux Æterna review: Gaspar Noé makes an amazing art film thanks to fashion advertising

Only Gaspar Noé, the French actor, would create a fashion advertisement like Lux Aeterna. Commissioned by luxury fashion house Saint Laurent, the film is a 51-minute, impromptu experimental art project about a staged witch who burns and ends in a lingering nightmare, sharp pain in light and sound. It may make the audience feel amused, excited, amused, annoyed, or all of the above, but does it make them feel like they want to put a thousand dollars in a handbag?

Surely they will feel like they just watched a Gaspar Noé movie. The director has a taste for extreme content and unconventional filmmaking techniques, and he loves to appeal to audiences and critics alike. He made a name for himself with 2002 Irreversible, a TV series told in reverse chronological order and centered on a graphicly protracted rape scene. He followed it up with his first, freaky head trip Enter in the blank. Then he invites porn actors in Love and cherish, a voyeuristic erotic film, so he can shoot unlimited sex scenes in 3D – including an extreme close-up of a penis ejaculating directly into the viewer’s face . You get the idea.

Noé is one of the most self-mythologizing artists in the world, and it sometimes seems like the most insulting thing about his films is how much he wants them to shock audiences. But he has undeniable gifts. His sleazy, shabby, neon-lit aesthetic, created by his usual cinematographer Benoît Debie, has a glam, decadent beauty. (This is definitely something Saint Laurent is after.) And he’s a master in the editing suite, where he always finds unusual ways to put together twisty shots and startling visuals. into cinematic masterpieces that can make your heart skip a beat.

Lux Aeterna (meaning “eternal light” in Latin) is a loose, real-time behind-the-scenes drama about a movie that is spinning out of control. Beatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg, both icons of Gallic cool, playing versions of themselves: Dalle chose Gainsbourg in her first film as a director, about a burned medieval witch , but is struggling to control a chaotic set. The producer is intending behind Dalle’s back to replace her as the director of photography. Gainsbourg, distracted and harassed by journalists, makeup artists and a young director-to-be director, receives a nasty phone call from home just before she shoots the crucial stake burning scene. After that, the lighting and rear-view rigs worked fine, and everything went really weird.

The most infuriating part of the film is the beginning, where Noé chooses to present the audience by showing scenes from old movies (from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1943 witch drama). Angry day) and expertly typed quotes about the film as a work of art from Dreyer, Jean-Luc Godard, and others. A quote by Dostoyevsky about the pure happiness experienced by epileptic people before having a seizure foreshadows the epileptic episode Noé will later. Ironically, it serves as a warning that any viewer with a photosensitive trigger should turn off the film.

Beatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg in a split-screen close-up

Image: Yellow Veil Pictures

This self-intro is followed by a lovely passage in which Dalle and Gainsbourg have a relaxed, text-free conversation on set, sharing wild anecdotes from their careers . Dalle, who became a wild child sex symbol in the 1980s when she starred in porn Betty Blue, has matured into an undeniably, merciless force of nature. Her digressive mouths, jovial laugh, and gummy grin were completely irresistible. Gainsbourg, the daughter of the infamous lounge singer Serge, was emaciated and thin, with a model-like face, a well-groomed face and patchy eyes. She is simply one of the most amazing people alive. It was a privilege just to watch these women shoot the fuck.

Oddly enough, this segment of the film and the backstage controversies, antics and mishaps that followed it, are not very reminiscent of an episode of Call my agent!, Netflix’s comedy-drama about talented spies in Paris. Everyone who is anyone in French acting has appeared as themselves in Call my agent!including Dalle and Gainsbourg; Dalle’s Episode is a special pleasure. The show is the stuff of foam, but as a portrait of how the French cinema world sees itself, it’s pretty sharp, and it’s also always true when it comes to the treatment of women in the industry.

In split screen mode, a model strapped to a stake appears on the left and a man with a film camera on the right, both lit in red

Image: Yellow Veil Pictures

This seems to be part of Noé’s theme here as well. When Dalle and Gainsbourg talk about their experiences with endearing humour, he wisely steps away. Elsewhere, he places them and the other women in the film within a film before a series of outrages and cuts from attention-seeking men until they begin. He pointed out that Dreyer (who did Joan of Arc’s Passionone of the great masterpieces of silent cinema) had his “wonderful” shot of a woman suffering from burning pain. Angry day by leaving her tied for two hours. He told Gainsbourg to receive a distressing phone call about his daughter by the side of a monstrous man; she looked absently at its waxy mass as she spoke.

Throughout, Noé uses a split screen to give viewers two simultaneous views of the action. Sometimes it’s two angles on the same scene; sometimes the view splits into two roaming handheld shots, conveying the layered chaos of the production. Sometimes, one of the shots was shot by an assistant whose producer asked to follow Dalle with a video camera and document any mistakes she might have made. The leering intrusion is being commented on, but it’s all there on the screen.

As Lux Aeterna Building to the climax of the wig, the screen dissolved into an almost unsweepable blizzard of reds, blues, and greens, with Gainsbourg writhing in discomfort in the middle of the frame. and a male voice off the screen sounded in it. Noé made his point – and was shot. As always, he got his cake and ate it. You have witnessed women burn on stakes until your eyes bleed. Now buy the dress.

Lux Aeterna Now showing in theaters.

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