In French with English Subtitles
Director: Marina de Van
Cast: Monica Bellucci, Sophie
Marceau, Andrea Di Stefano, Thierry Neuvic,
Brigitte Catillon, Sylvie Granotier, Augusto Zucchi, Giovanni
RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins
Released By: Encore Films & Cathay-Keris
Official Website: http://encorefilms.com/dontlookback.html
Opening Day: 3 December 2009
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.
(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.
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.
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?
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,
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
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,
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
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.
comedy or soft-core thriller, Donít Look Back is all the more
fun for suffering an identity crisis)
Review by Adrian Sim