Ravishing and intentionally bizarre nocturnal transfer of Balzac to contemporary France. With first-class art direction and gorgeous photography it explores in nearly apocalyptic imagery a subterranean Paris of erotic illusions and disillusionments, sensually captured in masterful close-ups, particularly of Laforet's sublime face. Playing up artifice it is a curious and thoroughly engrossing narcissistic experience.
Cultivation, theatricality, quick-wittedness as tools for a particular brand of masculine sadism, a viciousness which is accordingly essential to Albicoccio's aesthetic of grating light, assertive camera movements, & offbeat decoupage. As timidity, masculine vulnerability, & genuine emotional sympathy begin to overwhelm the narrative, we finally realize how far away we are from Balzac's boastful verbal posturing.