Olivier Assayas returns, after his complex Demonlover (2002), which had a mixed reception, to a more clear form of narration, but without adjusting his ambitions downwards. The film focuses on the famous Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung. She carries the film. She plays the drug-addicted widow of a rock star who dies from his addiction at the beginning of the film. She is also a mother, but her father-in-law has custody of the child and doesn’t feel like giving the child to a junkie. She tries to conquer her addiction with mixed results. It is no secret or gossip that Assayas has a special relationship with his actress. It is not the first time in film history that a director placed his muse so pontifically in front of the camera and in the centre of his story. Not always on the level of Von Sternberg and Dietrich, but here there is no possible doubt: the special chemistry between film maker and leading lady lifts the film far beyond what another director would have been able to achieve with the same material or even with the same actress. Assayas is a cineast who consistently has an ability to evoke the sense of a generation, with the locations always being the right locations and the music – yes, above all the music – always being the right music. Partly as a result, and hence partly through Maggie Cheung, this has become a moving and convincing film. Because the mood is right, and so is the feeling. —IFFR
In the ’90s Olivier Assayas emerged as one of the key figures in the new generation of French filmmakers. As a former critic for Cahiers du Cinema and a die-hard cinephile, he makes his films both personal and referential to the works of directors that he adores. His father was a director/screenwriter in the 1940s who later worked mainly for TV. When it was increasingly difficult for him to work because of a health condition, Olivier started to help him, first merely as a secretary, and then ghostwriting a few screenplays for the Maigret TV series. In the late 1970s he joined the team of influential film magazine Cahiers du Cinema, that once launched the French New Wave. While working for Cahiers he wrote essays on his favorite European filmmakers, Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, and published extensive studies on American horror films and Hong Kong Cinema (the latter came out long before Hong Kong cinema became fashionable with Western filmgoers and critics). He collaborated… read more
I can't even begin to describe just how bad this film is. There is no good angle about it. Lazy film making (one more fade-out and I would have turned it off), terrible performances all around (Nolte was TERRIBLE) and a dreadfully pretentious story line (the name dropping was incessant and unnecessary). Beatrice Dalle was the only reason I watched this film, and I wish I had that hour and a half back now. Terrible.