During a fateful meeting between two future lovers/partners in crime, a man describes his new inamorata as being “like a letter from a far-off land.” The same may be said of Alleluia itself, which, though brand-new, already has the feel of a decades-old, recently uncovered exploitation flick making the rounds thanks to a righteous benefactor — precisely the fate that might await it should intrepid cinephiles sleep on Fabrice Du Welz’s film during its brief stint in theaters.
Prior to the flowering of their romance, Michel (Laurent Lucas) had lit some candles and muttered a few words asking the spirits to let Gloria (Lola Dueñas) succumb to his charms. It would appear the spirits listen: She works in a morgue, he’s a lothario-cum-hustler who persuades lonely women to part with their riches, and there’s quite a bit of chemistry in that pairing.
The consummation of their passionate union is filmed in a grainy, borderline voyeuristic fashion befitting the grisly acts to follow. Sensuous and arresting, Alleluia constantly feels as though a séance or ritual murder is about to be performed; the actual deaths, when they arrive, turn out to be rather unceremonious affairs.
Gloria does mark one soul’s parting with a haunting requiem, however. Her voice in a whispery register, she sings a song dedicated to both her lover and their victims, one of whom lies naked on a table in front of her: “They no longer have dreams/They’re empty and alone/They live in darkness…” Then she takes a hacksaw to the corpse’s leg. Like the film as a whole, the moment is violent in its beauty and beautiful in its violence.
Directed by Fabrice Du Welz
Opens July 17, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 14, 2015