9 July 2003 | jester-30
Diverts from romanticism and classical vampire tales - gritty and decadent, yet charming.
This is a splendidly produced, directed, acted and scripted modern vampiresque tale carved into the underbelly of raucous French night life. There's plenty of glitter, pizzazz and charm mixed with a heaping dose of grit, filth and decadence that adds a unique realism to a captivating mystery of a ne'er-do-well (the "innocent" Antoine played by Guillaume Canet) thrust into a quest for the enigmatic Jordan "the lord of the night" and his alluring goth girlfriend/sister Violaine (sexy erotic-horror vixen Asia Argento). The audience follows the young Antoine on his spiral downward into nether regions of disturbing violence and despair, but he presses onward, transfixed by the memory of his recent collision with Violaine that left him physically empty and weak but spiritually rejuvenated. With newfound purpose and desire, he braves life-threatening dangers to peel away the fragile skin of ambiguity and uncover the truth about Violaine and the rumors of vampirism. This film diverts from the trappings of Anne Rice influenced romanticism and repetitive classical vampire motifs without resorting to modern-day drug metaphor. This film is better compared to Larry Fessenden's 1997 HABIT than any other recent vampire film. It is an intriguing mixture of the urban (ie. Fessenden's Manhattan), yet one cannot escape the thought that it draws on the somewhat surreal French vampire films of Jean Rollin. It is visibly quirky and riddled with moments of dark humor that serves to undercut some of the more disturbing (and mildly gory) scenes, but it is no comedy. It's unique and interesting throughout - and the mystery is fun to watch unfold.