Mortem (NR)

Drama 90
By Alan Scherstuhl
If you and your quite good-looking soul got locked in a hotel room together, would you be able to resist making out? That imponderable is one of the many posed in the delirium of Eric Atlan's Mortem, a mist-choked psychosexual girl-on-girl gothic spree, one of those hothouse/arthouse French doozies whose urgent ennui is never anywhere as interesting as the radiant faces of its actresses. The beauties here are Daria Panchenko and Diana Rudychenko, who play (at first) trench-coated motorcycle travelers spending a foggy night in a horror-film inn. But, wait: Didn't we only see one woman on the motorcycle in the languid road-trip opening? And doesn't the proprietress-- herself and her assistant both lavishly gowned-- only seem to see one of the women? The initial scenes, thick with creep-show ambiance, promise more fulfilling madness than what actually transpires once the out-of-nowhere second guest reveals who she is. The soul (Rudychenko) mounts her host (Panchenko), and impossibilities mount upon impossibilities, and the result is a heady, elusive, possibly touched-in-the-head bedroom drama between a woman, the soul that wants to kill her, and--also from out of nowhere-- a boy from her past. Atlan films it with such black-and-white brio that complaints that none of its depths really to warrant your plumbing seem beside the point.
Eric Atlan Daria Panchenko, Diana Rudychenko, Stany Coppet, Hortense Gelinet, Sophie Gelinet, Jean-Luc Masson Marie-Claude Dazun, Eric Atlan


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