Boarding Gate (R)

Suspense/Thriller 102 March 21, 2008
By J. Hoberman
There’s basically one reason to see Olivier Assayas’s self-consciously meta-sleazy English/French/Chinese-language globo-thriller Boarding Gate, and her name is Asia Argento. Argento’s Sandra—a Paris-based ex-hooker, erstwhile industrial spy, freelance drug dealer, and eventual hit lady—is introduced with her back to the camera and hair piled up, the better to display the “23” tattooed on the nape of her neck: She’s hot stuff. Sandra’s former lover, the capitalist swine Miles (beefy Michael Madsen), wants out of his import-export racket, and he wants Sandra back in his life. The pair embark on a long conversation on who got off on what, during the course of which Sandra, being Argento, pokes the finger of one hand into her mouth while idly exploring her crotch with the other. There hasn’t been so insolent a bad girl since the late-’70s punk queen Lydia Lunch, nor so bizarre a femme fatale since the pre-humanitarian Angelina Jolie. Boarding Gate returns to the jagged yet posh faux-vérité style that Assayas introduced in his last international thriller, 2002’s Demonlover; the film is a mélange of suave jump cuts, confusing closeups and light-smearing action pans. But, unlike Demonlover, Boarding Gate has little new to offer, and Assayas’s attempt to hijack and import a strobe-lit, glass-shattering, Hong Kong–style chase-cum-shootout, complete with drugged drinks and interpolated karaoke, is disappointingly mediocre.
Olivier Assayas Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, Carl Ng, Kelly Lin, Joana Preiss, Alex Descas, Kim Gordon Olivier Assayas François Margolin Magnolia Pictures

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