the whirlwind of an end of life, in double screen



From the opening of Vortex, by Gaspar Noé, something tells us that the experience will be unique. That this sixth feature film will not be a new hallucinated story, the trademark of the author of Loveof Climax, or of Lux Aeterna, but a more intimate narrative. The excess of the credits (at the beginning of the film), as well as its original concept – associating the names of the actors with their year of birth – put us on the trail of a fiction inscribed in the history of cinema. The casting is evocative: by bringing together Françoise Lebrun, the mythical actress of The Mom and the Whore (1973), by Jean Eustache, Dario Argento, the filmmaker and Italian master of horror, as well as comedian and director Alex Lutz, Gaspar Noé connects different “families” – art and essay, genre film, the general public – and signs a generational work. While the credits, again him, resounds the cult song of Françoise Hardy, My friend the Rose (1964), on the decline that awaits, composed at the time of vinyls, the spectator therefore learns that Françoise Lebrun was born in 1944 – she will soon be 78 years old, or 78 rpm, to use the name of the old phonographic records; Dario Argento was born in 1940, and Alex Lutz in 1978 (44 years old and, in a year, 45 rpm).

In Paris, in the Stalingrad district, a man (Dario Argento) and a woman (Françoise Lebrun) form an old couple (they don’t have first names). They live in an apartment under the roof, low ceiling and U-shaped – important details, announcing a labyrinthine wandering. They smile at each other, each from a window. The shot after, they have a drink on their small terrace. ” Life is a Dream “, she says. This aperitif in the open air will be one of the rare moments of serenity. Because the lady in the bun, brilliant intellectual, former psychiatrist, is losing her mind – Alzheimer’s, even if the disease is not named. And life becomes hell for her husband, a film critic, who, for his part, painfully tries to write an essay.

All the rest of the film is shot using the “split screen” technique – the screen split in two

These first shots, in square format, will also be the only ones where Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun appear together on screen. All the rest of the film is shot using the technique of split-screen – the screen split in two. Each in his “corridor”, the two characters will therefore evolve in their own universe: the spectator acquires a “double vision”, penetrates into the concerns of one and the other, becomes familiar with their habits. The mental space connects to that of the apartment, raising essential questions: what does living together mean, and what is inhabiting?

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