Olivier Assayas’s ambitious but muddled conspiracy thriller demonlover centers around a series of contract negotiations and double-crossings between two rival companies battling for control of a revolutionary 3-D manga perfected by a Japanese animé studio. Things turn prickly when a series of seedy, underground porn sites are revealed to have ties to the project. Connie Nielsen stars as Diane, an executive from Volf Group who orchestrates the deal between the companies and finds herself used as a pawn in a high-stakes game of cyber-espionage. Assayas’s obsession with the blurry line between fantasy and reality is lofty but unfocused and the film’s meandering pace has a way of diminishing the more relevant themes that lie crippled beneath. As cyber thriller, the film is a complete bore; Sonic Youth’s sleepy score, though, more than compliments the film’s pre-millenium tension and icy surface sheen (think of the film then as an extended version of Mark Romanek’s video for “Trouble Little Girl,” minus the alien girl). As feminist primer, the film is brilliant. Assayas is a great lover of women, so its no surprise that the ladies of demonlover are every bit as vulnerable, feral and dangerous as Irma Vep. As Diane’s sheepish assistant Elise, Chloë Sevigny makes the most startling impression. She plays video games in the nude, reminiscent of the same young girls (sans pubic hair) that the film’s animé developers fetishize and abuse via their pornographic movies and games. When she lashes back at her boss, not only does she challenge technological amorality but she also grabs Assayas by the balls. Forget then the film’s labored and mundane parallels between the film’s cyber and real-life torture mechanisms and take the film’s latter half as a insane celebration of female power over the manmade image.
- Palm Pictures
- 117 min
- Olivier Assayas
- Olivier Assayas
- Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling, Chloë Sevigny, Gina Gershon, Jean-Baptiste Malartre, Dominique Reymond, Edwin Gerard
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