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Posts Tagged ‘new wave of French cinema’

Martyrs: Ever since its screening in 2008 at the Cannes Film Festival, Martyrs has bludgeoned through the hearts and minds of every other self-fashioned gore aficionado. With director Pascal Laugier bringing copious amounts of paroxysmal violence, the stench of blood and nihilism is almost too beautiful to resist. Moreover the ferocity with which this film transforms from a typical revenge slasher into a dadaist case of spiritual buggery is like a vicious punch to the side of your neck; you don’t exactly get knocked the fuck out, but rather your limbs gently collapse, muscle by muscle, cartilage by cartilage, as you crumble to the floor like a newborn giraffe would if its mother accidentally (or intentionally if it had a sense of humour) tripped it. This isn’t your standard El Roth‘s dorky horror picture show where the violence doesn’t go beyond oohs and ahhs. This is the newest new wave of French cinema bringing the oh fuck nos and oh god whys. This is Layne Staley singing, “you’d be well advised not to plan your funeral before the body dies”.

Matter of fact, Martyrs would have worked just as well either as a supernatural or a slasher film; the director would have had us by the balls no matter what, chewing nails and colouring happy thoughts in our heads like rainbows or waterfalls. It wasn’t just the feral progression of the plot that made the film an affecting piece of art, its relentless pacing and showcasing of violence was almost sacred considering how quarantined our television sets are from the true nature of evil.

Actresses Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï, who play Anna and Lucie, make us care deeply about their characters, as they dig deep to appear as transcended through anathema as humanly possible. Lucie’s personal demons manifesting as a shrieking phantasm is one of the scariest I’ve seen in horror films. It makes the onryō in Ju-on look like Charlie Brown after a severe limb severing accident and a lifetime of crack addiction. Catherine Bégin as Mademoiselle and her motley cult go Henry David Thoreau on us with their ‘more than spittle, than tears, than entrails, than dry blood, give us truth’ shenanigans; anyone of them could easily walk into the set of a Nazi exploitation film and seek gainfully employement.

Now, if you’re the sort who desperately needed to know what Bill Murray whispers to  Scarlett Johansson, then Martyrs‘ final dialogue might drive you up the wall. You might start theorizing cinema and shit, making all sorts of weird faces, trying to figure out what was it that Mademoiselle heard. Is there a soul? Is God a woman? Can Batman actually kick Superman’s ass? None of these questions are actually answered but when the premise is so unflinchingly brutal, do we really need to care?

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