The old saying about houseguests who stay more than a week is played out with a killer vengeance in this engrossing, well-designed menage a trois.
Diane Kurys's film is a Gallic variant of SINGLE WHITE FEMALE. Elsa (Beatrice Dalle) is the visitor from hell who descends upon her artist friend, Alice (Anne Parillaud), and makes herself right at home with her toothbrush, refrigerator, and, of course, her hapless boxer boyfriend, Franck (Patrick
Aurignac). As the two women act out their mysterious symbiosis, Frank becomes little more than a pawn. Are the two really sisters, as one claims? Are they former lovers? What's obvious is the fact that Elsa is more than a little batty, with her constant prevaricating and destructive behavior. The
apartment the trio share turns into a veritable inferno of mental and physical game-playing that becomes increasingly dangerous. Before the end of the film Elsa turns Alice into a quivering mass handcuffed to a radiator before a nonplussed Franck. Alice eventually pulls herself together, gives
Elsa the heave-ho, and gets her career back on track. She ends up in New York, far from Elsa's demonic dogging of her ... or is she?
Starting with Vivien Leigh's Blanche Dubois, another houseguest who should leave, but never does, films have amply covered this psychosexual terrain. There's nothing particularly enlightening here, nor is anything probed very deeply, but Diane Kurys's direction is surer than it's ever been, and
the claustrophobic aura of mystery is quite compelling. (That sub-Hitchcockian ending is risible, however.) Fabio Conversi's camerawork is vital to the conception, with its subtle palette and sinuous moves. Like the film's technicians, the actors also prove themselves well up to the task. With her
stars, the director has two of the most compelling presences in French cinema. Waifish Parillaud makes a perfect victim, a Parisian equivalent to Anne Archer, whom she strongly resembles. Dalle, with her intriguing death's head face and a body that is at once emaciated and voluptuous, reprises her
BETTY BLUE mania with knifelike precision. Instantly recognizable to the audience as a human minefield, it's a wonder the other characters aren't on to her from the start, but then there would be no movie. Aurignac is also comely, and rather touching as a macho man who is methodically stripped of
all his defenses. (Sexual situations, nudity, profanity, adult situations, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: The old saying about houseguests who stay more than a week is played out with a killer vengeance in this engrossing, well-designed menage a trois. Diane Kurys's film is a Gallic variant of SINGLE WHITE FEMALE. Elsa (Beatrice Dalle) is the visitor from hel… (more)