Thursday, 20 March 2008

Film: Demonlover

Lowdown: Porn is just the start of a slippery slope.
The heat wave continued for another night of random old VCR recording's selection, and this time around the luck of the draw brought us Demonlover. Or rather it was an unlucky draw, as Demonlover is far from being a movie I felt lucky to watch.
This French film is a story of two halves. The first half tells the story of a French company negotiating some commercial rights of distribution with a Japanese company. We start becoming involved as the French, who are actually made of a group of multinationals, come back from a trip to Japan; we can immediately tell the relationship between them by the fact one of them, Connie Nielsen (the most famous of the actors in Demonlover), poisons another during the flight in order to take her out of the negotiation table. All the while another colleague is not exactly happy to have been left in tourist class while the rest fly business. The film does everything it can to show us that we are dealing here with a bunch of immoral capitalists who would stop at nothing to increase their personal gain.
As the first half develops, we learn in a rather casual way that the negotiations with the Japanese are actually about the rights to distribute pornographic manga animation; again, it does not seem as if any of the characters has any problems with the subject matter of their negotiations as they do their dealing the same way one would deal the purchase of groceries. However, the plot further thickens as we see Nielsen sabotaging the negotiations without really understanding why; the film sort of develops into a thriller as you're trying hard to understand what it is exactly that is going on, feeling that this is one of those movies ala Sixth Sense where everything reveals itself at the very last minute.
That, however, is not the case. The answer to Nielsen's escapades is revealed around the midpoint of the film, leaving the viewer (or at least me) quite disappointed, while still failing to explain a lot of the film's obscurities.
Then, however, the film takes a sharp turn and commences its second half. This time around we learn that an American company is negotiating the rights to distribute the Japanese manga now owned by the French company. Quickly enough we discover that this American company is pretty dirty and that it has, amongst its run of the mill porn ventures, websites specializing in live torture. From then on the movie becomes stupidly predictable, and between Nielsen's continuing escapades and the live torture you sort of figure out how the film is going to end pretty quickly.
Overall, I can see what Demonlover's filmmakers were trying to say. They were trying to send us a warning message against the dangers of capitalism that, when taken to extremes (the way it actually is in real life), can cause morality to step aside. And once morality steps aside it's all downhill; we start with porn, we learn to accept it, and we end up with torturing people. It may sound extreme but it's not; we already have mainstream films that take the next step from porn and into extreme violence in the shape of the Hostel film franchise.
However, as important a message as Demonlover is trying to convey, it fails to convey it properly. The film is too obscure and too falsely sophisticated for its own good. For example, it hides information from us in order to create tension, but when we figure out the missing information we end up disappointed because it wasn't half as dramatic as the culmination of Sixth Sense. Between its unjustified sense of self importance and its eventual predictability, Demonlover is really nothing special.
Worst scene: When we finally learn what Nielsen's secret is; after an hour's worth of a buildup, it's just so disappointing.
Overall: A waste of time that doesn't even deliver in the erotic department. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

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