Demonlover (Olivier Assayas, 2002)

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The reason why I made this small blog was to talk about films, a deep passion of mine, and with whoever stumbles upon this platform. The intention was and still is to review films, however, I decided to not talk about extremely well known films like the Indiana Jones films, Star Wars, Casablanca, big and famous productions, because I will wind up saying what is already known about them. I want to talk about new releases and not as well known movies, not necessary cult films or very obscure and strange stuff, but films directed by people with an established name in the industry but not as well known worldwide like Takashi Miike or Andrei Tarkovsky or Olivier Assayas to name a few. The latter’s 2002 film Demonlover is a perfect example of the film I am interested in reviewing. I bet not a lot of people have heard of it, but they know who the director is. Actually his entire filmography is formed of films that fit my pattern.

Demonlover

What attracted me to this dark film was the Wikipedia description which labeled Demonlover as a technological neo-noir thriller,a description that made me very curious. I watched the film without knowing what is really about, something that I almost never do, just with the fact that is something related to 3D manga pornography, in my opinion a good subject, disturbing and dark enough for a neo noir thriller. And it surely was.

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The film stars Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling, Chloe Sevigny and Gina Gershon. It focuses on the two corporations competing by sending spies to gain supremacy of a new rich and fast-evolving market of 3D manga pornography. It’s an unusual, almost dreamlike film, where nothing really makes sense, much being left to the viewer’s interpretation. Its hard-to-comprehend storyline made Demonlover a difficult film to follow. It’s the kind of movie that probably needs to be viewed twice as there aren’t a lot of things explained, something I usually like in a film, but here I feel it didn’t work as good as with other stories. At times it doesn’t make any sense.  The whole storyline evolves in such an unconventional way I wouldn’t rule out the whole film as a fantasy. Especially after you see the ending. Which makes me realize it’s more interesting than I thought, something I become aware of while writing this review.
With the main subject being something as disturbing as a sick pornography, one of its main themes is of course the insensibility and easiness with which some people consume this kind of products. The main characters watch these films like a kid watches cartoons before going to bed. There are some disturbing and brutal scenes, not that many, that are very effective to the story, but that I admit to looking away from.

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All the actors do respectable work with their roles. Connie Nielsen plays nicely a woman with a secret. We see from the very beginning that there’s something strange about her. I liked that she entered this game not very prepared. She doesn’t act like a super spy, she doesn’t fight like a ninja or use gadgets, she gets in a lot of trouble. I liked the realistic manner in which it was depicted, despite the unusual tone of the film.
Chloe Sevigny, who by the way speaks French very well, plays a secretary who is more than what she appears to be. I feel like she pulls off this kind of rude, tough but also with a soft and honest side characters very well.
All the characters are hard to describe, they have many sides, they are complex and unpredictable so it’s hard to really put them in a certain pattern. This aspect adds to the surrealism that lingers throughout Demonlover.

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This is the first film I watched from Olivier Assayas’ filmography. After watching Demonlover I admit to being interested in the rest of his work, which is more well regarded than this film.
Demonlover is a one time watch, given the brutal content. Its puzzling structure and dark atmosphere is what I get out with after watching this dark and surreal corporate thriller.

B-

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