Panorama | Spotlight on France | Style in Film
Re-teaming after 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria, director Olivier Assayas and star Kristen Stewart journey into the uncanny with a terrific horror story that begins, innocuously enough, as the tale of Maureen (Stewart), an American in Paris who makes ends meet by assisting snobby and demanding supermodel-cum-fashion designer Kyra (Nora Von Waltstätten). Though ill-treated, Maureen gets her own back by surreptitiously making use of Kyra’s haute-couture outfits and camping out in Kyra’s luxury apartment when the designer is away. But Maureen is much more than just a mildly transgressive personal shopper: she is, in fact, a medium who makes forays into the psychic realm in an effort to contact the spirit of her twin brother Lewis, a lad who died of the same congenital heart problem Maureen herself suffers from. When one of her frequent wanderings through the creepy old Parisian house that she and Lewis grew up in seems to lead to a connection, Assayas ratchets up the tension with the finesse of a master. In her heartfelt attempts to contact the other side, just what has Maureen wrought?
"[A] captivating, bizarre, tense, fervently preposterous and almost unclassifiable scary movie… It’s a film that delivers the bat-squeak of pure craziness… [This is] Assayas’ best film for a long time, and Stewart’s best performance to date…[Her acting] is tremendous: she is calm and blank in the self-assured way of someone very competent, smart and young, yet her displays of emotion are very real and touching. She is entirely devoted to her smartphone, which is to be the conduit of her fears, and there is a dash of pure Hitchcockian brilliance in a scene where she turns it on and a backlog of texts starts mounting up, bringing danger ever closer…”—Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
Best Director, Cannes 16