Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eric Atlan's dopey doppelganger movie, MORTEM -- in gorgeous black-and-white

I have noted elsewhere (but feel it bears repeating) that when the French get pretentious, none -- and I mean no one -- can outdo them. A particularly grand example of that pretention can be found in MORTEM, directed and co-written (with Marie-Claude Dazun) by Eric Atlan, and which I originally viewed during a Film Comment Selects series back in 2012.

When he first saw this film, TrustMovies imagined M. Atlan, shown at left, to be a young filmmaker. This is not quite the case. Still, why else would Atlan, he wondered, waste our time with such a silly and obvious story about a pretty woman on a motorcycle whose sort-of doppelgänger/double begins interacting with her at a very odd hotel in the provinces where the staff is weird and the guests even weirder?

Did I ask why? Well, for the hot lesbian sex scene that grounds the middle of the movie, of course.

Otherwise, this is a Philosophy/Religion/Psychology 101 crash-course that plays its hand far too soon and then has really nowhere to go. However, young film audiences may very well groove on this "new" idea about the "other" that they've not yet seen (as have we older folk) many times before. At least from Daughters of Darkness onwards.

Young folk may also love the fact that, like The Artist and the more recent Blancanieves, this movie has been filmed in that exciting new process known as black-and-white cinematography (by M. Atlan himself, and the photography is indeed quite beautiful). In fact, for those who love crisp, clear and gorgeous variations of black, white and gray, the movie is worth seeing for these alone.

Mortem, though made in 2010, opens here at last, via R Squared, in Manhattan at the Quad Cinema this Friday, April 26. You can see further playdates, with personal appearances, by clicking here.

SPECIAL TREAT: Director Eric Atlan will be present for a Q&A 
 following the 7:10pm show at the Quad on Friday, 04/26.

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