If it weren't for the smoldering performance of Asia Argento, and I'm not talking about the parts where you get to see her tattoos, I would admit defeat and zero this one out. I don't know why the film is called Boarding Gate; the plot is thin and confusing; Michael Madsen can whisper and grunt all he wants and nobody is going to mistake it for good dramatic acting; the film seems to meander along in prologue mode for about forty-five minutes and then, BANG! somebody dies with great surprise; despite the fact that the location moves to a new country, the film doesn't seem to go anywhere; and not understanding the story won't prevent me from saying with confidence that the ending is lame.
Ms. Argento doesn't need to act. She lives the role of Sandra, relying on her naturally scary-cool charisma and complex heart to suck us in to her characterthe script isn't going to do it. She's transcendentally tough and vulnerable at the same time. From one moment to the next she is spitting razor sharp barbs and then crying but never weeping, never weak. The incomplete script works to her advantage here. It's not clear why she is attracted so deeply to either of her love interests with the net result that she appears twisted, courting danger and abuse to feel alive.
Contrary to what the movie posters might lead one to believe, Argento doesn't parade around the entire film in her underwear. There's one quick shot of her being thrown to a bed by her lover where upon she delivers the most authentic and erotic response I've seen in a movie, and there's an extended scene in Madsen's apartment where she's in and out of her dress a couple times. The latter is the best scene in the film, not for its limited display of flesh but for the warped cruelty in their battle of witsmirrored in stop/start kinky sex they never manage to get very far along with for one reason or another.
Boarding Gate is billed as a thriller and, given its writer/director's resumé, is supposedly about how selfishly cruel and inhuman the world of contemporary multi-national capitalists can be. Blah blah blah. Who's arguing that point? What emerges from the film is a portrait of a modern day neo-femme-fatale who doesn't dress nice or comb her hair trying to juggle a couple of corporate wackbirds (I stole that word from somebody) to her meager advantage and gets a lesson in betrayal along the way. The action parts of the film, the parts where people run around and shoot guns and stuff, aren't interesting at all. The thriller parts, the parts where mystery and suspense are supposed to propel the film, aren't articulated very well. It's the parts where the players settle down to talking smack on one another to gain psychological advantage that are red hot brutal good. If you are a fan of Asia Argento and like your eroticism dark and implied, or are interested in finding out what Argento is capable of as an actress, then check out Boarding Gate. If you are looking for a good thriller, or a film with a little action and good production values, look somewhere else.
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