I've never done such a drastic about-face on a film as I'm going to do here. What seemed like a secondhand Videodrome for the Internet age at first glance is apparently working along different lines than what I'd expected (no coincidence that the media-influencing-life portion of the film is confined mainly to the final fifteen minutes). It's a film about corruption, whether it be corporate corruption, corruption of the sex act or corruption of the soul -- everyone in the film is spiritually, emotionally and morally bankrupt. (And that's to say nothing of the narrative, which rarely plays according to logic.) Also, it's about power and the futility of the individual trying to exert oneself within the structure of a larger organization -- what's everyone trying to do besides keep Connie Nielsen -- who functions as this story's free radical -- under control? So there's that... but besides, it's an extraordinarily well-directed film. (How I missed the shivery power of the party scene, with Nielsen gliding through the room accompanied by Death in Vegas's "Dirge", I do not know.) Olivier Assayas gives the impression of knowing exactly what he's doing; even as the film appears to slip away from him, there's something in the back of your head that's whispering that this is where the story was meant to end up. Little bits still puzzling (what's with the scene in the parking garage? is it intimated near the end that Diane and Elise have switched places on the corporate ladder? does Gina Gershon die or what?), but the whole picture suddenly makes more sense -- it's like one of those 3D painting-dealies that I finally stared at long enough to see the image. Stylish, cool, possibly dangerous... this is really quite something.
Grade: A- [upgraded from a C]