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DON'T LOOK BACK
(Ne Te Retourne Pas) (France)

  Publicity Stills of
"Don't Look Back"
(Courtesy of Encore Films)
 
 



In French with English Subtitles
Genre:
Drama/Thriller
Director: Marina de Van

Cast: Monica Bellucci, Sophie Marceau, Andrea Di Stefano, Thierry Neuvic, Brigitte Catillon, Sylvie Granotier, Augusto Zucchi, Giovanni Franzoni
RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins
Released By: Encore Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: M18
Official Website: http://encorefilms.com/dontlookback.html

Opening Day: 3 December 2009

Synopsis:

Two of Europe’s hottest actresses – Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci, literally combine in NE TE RETOURNE PAS (DON’T LOOK BACK). Unveiled in the Official Selection of Festival de Cannes 2009, this film is a psychological-thriller about a woman who starts to see unsettling changes to her home, life and physical appearance.

Jeanne (Sophie Marceau) is a successful biographer, who, against the advice of her publisher, decides to write a novel based on her own life experiences. As she becomes consumed by her work, she starts to uncover a series of disturbing changes happening to her life.

The world around her – her home, her family, her life – are beginning to transform into something beyond her recognition. Then she realizes that she too is changing... her body is beginning to change, and her physical features are slowly morphing into that of another woman (Monica Bellucci)! Yet, no one around her seems to notice.

Her family dismisses these fears as the result of the stress of her having to finish her next book, but Jeanne suspects that something far deeper, far more disturbing is taking place. Is it all in her mind, or is there something sinister at work?

Movie Review:

You know you're in for a hellish time when it's a movie made or acted by the zombie-looking French provocateur, Marina de Van. For the uninitiated, she made that fingers-over-your-eyes shocker "In My Skin" and starred in Francois Ozon's incest comedy Sitcom among others.

This time, it's a relatively bloodless affair, but nonetheless, thought provocative.

Kierkegaard. Nietzsche. Kafka. They probably don't ring a bell unless you're into the kind of stuff called 'existentialism'.

The concept is made accessible in Don't Look Back. And it is appealingly packaged and sleekly marketed with two of Europe's hottest actresses, Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci, headlining and sharing screen time literally as one person (more on that later).

Philosophical it is not. Daft and thrilling it is. Don't Look Back dumbs it down for mainstream viewing. Now I beg to differ that it is an 'arthouse movie' because it is really just a mainstream movie made in an alien language.

Don't Look Back probes the repressed trauma of an unsuspecting female multi-hyphenate, Jeanne. She is a loving mother, wife, photographer and a budding author. Her seemingly perfect world comes crumbling down when she starts seeing her loved ones metamorphise into strangers. Soon, she turns into another woman. Questions abound. Is something supernatural at work? Is she going crazy? Thankfully, the movie doesn't take the easy way out by ending with one of those cut-and-dry denouements.

Under de Van's distinct brand of hocus-pocus, the thriller takes on a metaphysical turn, much like that French thriller, Lemming.

What the movie does right is placing us in the shoes of Jeanne. We experience her paranoia and hysteria from her point of view. The uncertainty over where this movie and Jeanne's sanity are headed largely makes the movie such a gripping affair even if some of its tactics of surrealism are over-the-top.

Jeanne's rapid descent isn't subtle; it is unflinchingly explicit. And much of the scary bits are effective mainly because of the ominous sound design and exceptional special effects. The gradual physical change of Jeanne from one with Marceau's features to Bellucci's has to be seen to be believed. To me, witnessing this freaky transmogrification is worth the price of admission alone.

Shaking things up are the amply endowed femmes. They are here to elevate this to a psychosexual thriller. When placed side-by-side, it is clear that Marceau is the stronger actress of the two. The first half, which is also the best part of the movie, is ably anchored by her. Her gradual descent into insanity is believable and compelling. Bellucci is less successful as her alter-ego. All she does is mope around and shed unconvincing tears. Her best scene involves some rough man-handling. Enough said.

Normally movies of such offer weak payoffs. But fret not, Don't Look Back doesn't not offer an explanation for its spooky going-ons. Although rash, its twist is satisfying. If the conclusion is disappointingly chirpy, it may be fairer to say that it'll be hard for the rest of this movie to live up to its brilliant first half.

This movie has been slapped upon, left, right and centre by critics. But it has found an appreciative audience in me.


Movie Rating:




(Unintentional comedy or soft-core thriller, Donít Look Back is all the more fun for suffering an identity crisis)

Review by Adrian Sim

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

. Lemming (2006)

. How Much Do You Love Me? (2005)

. Anthony Zimmer (2005)



 
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