Reminiscent of Michael Haneke’s Amour, Gaspar Noé’s superb film compels us to look at aspects of life we too often shy away from: declining cognitive powers, the strains and stresses it places on an elderly married couple (here played by the Italian filmmaker Dario Argento and the French actress Françoise Lebrun (The Mother and the Whore), and on their only child (Alex Lutz).
One of narrative cinema’s great experimentalists, Noé has chosen to convey the isolation of dementia by shooting the entire film in split-screen. It’s a master stroke, rendering “a day-in-the-life” authenticity with slow-burning suspense and compelling philosophical astringency. Noé has been criticized in the past for sensationalism, but this film is informed by personal experience (including the filmmaker’s own near-death experience from a cerebral hemorrhage) and it has a more sober, austere tone than his earlier works. Yet it builds to a climax as powerful and overwhelming as anything he has shown us before in films like I Stand Alone, Irreversible, Climax, and Enter the Void (also showing this week at the VIFF Centre). Although for the most part the action is confined to a cluttered Paris apartment and a handful of other interiors, this too is essentially a cinematic experience that demands the attention and commitment of the big screen. Vortex is a masterpiece and it merits your attention.
Vortex is deliberate, pitiless and perfectly acted in a loose, improvisational style.
***** Xan Brooks, The Guardian
With its uncommonly human touch and restless, unflinching visual aesthetic, Vortex might well be Noe’s finest and most thoughtful work.
Jason Solomons, The Wrap
It’s his most mature film, an unabashedly and audaciously experimental work.
Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
Edouard Weil, Vincent Maraval, Brahim Chioua
Denis Bedlow, Gaspar Noé