Transgressive French director Gaspar Noe was approached by a small-time production company with a simple request: create a short film with a modestly low budget (roughly $300K) that can be released in time for the Cannes Film Festival. After being told there were no constraints besides the budget and idea, he decided to make a piece that properly reflected his view on filmmaking.
“Lux Aeterna” is a very simple story. Actress Beatrice Dalle (Trouble Every Day, Inside) has been penned to direct a film about witches. During the day they begin to shoot the stake-burning scene, literally everything involved with the production goes severely wrong.
At just under an hour, Noe shows us a calming beginning where the director and star actor Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist, Nymphomaniac) are having a simple conversation about their experiences with related filmmaking. It’s very meta and sets the tone for what’s about to happen. Once they try to get the stage set up, actors in costumes, and cinematographers together, we find out multiple things are happening behind the scenes. For example, the two producers have absolutely no faith in the director pulling this off and try to find any reason to fire her, Charlotte calls her daughter and finds out she has problems at home, there’s paparazzi and aspiring filmmakers alike all trying to stop everyone from performing so they can pitch their scripts or articles, and so much more. There’s language barriers since almost everyone on set speaks predominately French, hostility and fighting, mass confusion, and a finale that melts the mind.
On a technical scale, this is one of his first experiments where Gaspar Noe decides to film almost the entire film in a split-screen perspective which he would go on to really embrace in his next feature film ‘Vortex’. There is no script, which allows the actors to improvise with the exception of some necessary staging and banter. There’s vibrant colors, a swirling electronic soundscape, and strange noises that accompany hostile, vulgar dialogue.
The piece de resistance of this film is the final 10 minutes of the film. The movie begins with a very serious epilepsy warning, and the last 10 minutes involve a screen on set that just does not stop flashing hypnotic colors. It’s extremely artistic, tasteful, beautiful, and a bit traumatizing. There’s random pop-up text blocks throughout the film that express his intentions, ideas, and personal feelings on the process of film making which makes everything on screen fit a better context.
Since it’s a very meta, low-key arthouse horror flick, it’s certainly not for everyone. Especially circling around the cliched idea of ‘moviemaking gone wrong’. However, I absolutely love this movie to death. I watched it three times in one week when I first got a copy of it. It’s absolutely mad, and surprisingly organic, while still being powerful and creative. It’s certainly something that needs to be seen to be believed.
In my eyes, Gaspar Noe has done it once again.
“Lux Aeterna” is currently available on Vudu, Amazon Prime, & Google Play Video.
‘Til Next Time,
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